#52FILMSBYWOMEN is a campaign launched by Women In Film in an attempt to raise awareness of female filmmakers. Their initiative asks cinephiles to watch a female-directed film once a week for an entire year, and in this series I will document the films I watched as a part of this pledge.
Two Romeos do battle over one Juliet (or perhaps we should say Julieta) in Paula Ortiz’s doomed romantic tale based on Federico García Lorca’s classic tragedy Blood Wedding.
The Bride opens with the haunting image of the unnamed Bride (Inma Cuesta) lying in a muddy grey wasteland. Her dress stained with blood; her face shrouded with a knotted white sheet. She gasps for air, slowly arises and weeps. It’s an auspicious opening that sets the lyrical tone for the rest of the story. The film then proceeds to recount the events leading to this situation, starting with her adolescent years when she had two potential suitors from separate grudging families. She eventually becomes engaged to Asier Etxeandia’s bespectacled character (simply named The Groom), but her true desires clearly lie with the hunky Leonardo (Álex García), who is now unhappily married with child. With her doubts mounting and tensions brewing, disaster inevitably strikes all involved when the ill-fated wedding day approaches.
Though unable to escape the melodramatic pitfalls inherent in the source material, Ortiz’s second feature, after De tu Ventana a la Mía, is a handsomely produced picture constructed with grace and elegance. Telenovela-like stylings within the plot are undeniably present, but the more obviously dramatic elements are downplayed to whispers, with dialogue muffled by the soft ballads of a traditional Spanish folk song. Episodes of surrealistic imagery are interspersed in the film’s time-jumping structure, often foreshadowing the impending devastation that looms over the families. One warning sign comes in the form of an old-crone (María Alfonsa Rosso), real or possibly manifested from the Bride’s fragile psyche, appearing like an ominous fairy godmother, cautioning her not to get married if she’s not in love. Admittedly, some of these fantastical premonitions and its symbolisms can be clumsily depicted, but Ortiz’s attempt at visual lyricisms is admirable.
The visuals, provided by Migue Amoedo, are striking, helped by the sumptuous desert landscape filled with otherworldly rock formations and desolate ruins; and set in a disorientating time period where horseback and motorbikes are seen as appropriate modes of transport. However, the sunset hues and glossy finish can seem overly polished to its detriment, with Leonardo, a stereotypical bearded stud, entering the frame upon stallion as if from a perfume commercial. Nevertheless, even if a bit meandering, its soulful, poetic storytelling are difficult to resist.