Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Inside the Strange Mind of Almodovar; the Spanish Master of Camp Makes Worldbeating Movies, but His Latest Is All Dressed Up with Nowhere to Go

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Inside the Strange Mind of Almodovar; the Spanish Master of Camp Makes Worldbeating Movies, but His Latest Is All Dressed Up with Nowhere to Go

Article excerpt

Byline: WILL SELF

BAD EDUCATION .

Cert 15, 104 mins

PEDRO Almodovar's is the queer eye for the straight girl; at any rate, this is the niche he has come to occupy in the English-speaking world, where his productions are welcomed as a bracing antidote to corporate Hollywood shlock and art-house wannabes alike.

The frenetic and colourful flamenco whirl of films such as Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown has been tempered in recent years by the more thoughtful pacing of the Oscar-winners, All About My Mother and Talk to Her, as well as the lurid noir exemplified by Live Flesh, his 1997 adaptation of the Ruth Rendell novel.

But Almodovar's roots are really in the provinces - he is literally the man from La Mancha - a fact not forgotten in his native Spain, and his earliest work was also uncompromisingly experimental.

With his international success has come the inevitable "tall poppy syndrome" (as the Australians style it), whereby domestic commentators attempt to cut him down to parochial size.

When I say he's a fag hag director, I don't mean to be dismissive of Almodovar. His particular genius lies in uniting a masculine forcefulness to a feminine sensibility; his films are hyperemotional without descending - too much - into sentiment or hysteria. Nor do I wish to belittle his achievement, together with his brother Augustin, in forging a uniquely Spanish production company capable of making worldbeating films.

We need more Almodovars, not fewer. But I have to admit that his recent films have left me rather tepid, admiring of the idea rather more than the actuality. Talk to Her said nothing much to me, and, while beautifully played, smelt of refried Freudian beans. I left the cinema complaining to my companion: what exactly was that about?

Now comes Bad Education, a quasi-autobiographical exercise in fictive noodling, and once again I came out from the darkness feeling as if the dish had been laced with monosodium glutamate, and wanting to eat again immediately.

THE film temporally pivots around 1980, the time of the movida, when, following the death of Franco, Spanish society was thawing out from its 50-odd frozen years. Enrique Goded (Fele Martinez) is a young and successful film director casting about for his next project, when into his office walks a young man claiming to be Ignacio Rodriguez, his boyhood friend and first love, now struggling as an actor with the stage name Angel Andrade.

Enrique and Ignacio were torn apart by the jealous actions of their headmaster, the paedophile priest Father Manolo. Although Enrique doesn't at first recognise Ignacio and is as dismissive of him as he would be of any actor on the make, he nonetheless accepts the short story that his old friend has written and wants him to look at. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.