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Leonar Watling is big stuff in Spain. The popular actress, most
familiar to American audiences for playing a comatose dancer in Pedro Almodovars Talk to Her, is also at the
center of a Spanish non-Almodovarian comedy, My Mother Likes Women. When the
divorced mother of three grown-up daughters shacks-up with a much younger, female lover,
the daughters flip out individually, then embark on a farcical plan to break the
Of the three daughters, it is Watling, as the hyper-sensitive, neurotic Elvira, who seizes her own complicated reaction to the news and runs with it, right into her own wildly emotional, jaggy life. While Elviras courtship of a man is humiliatingly tenuous, the lesbian relationship of the mother, Sophia (Rosa Maria Sarda, who played Penelope Cruzs mother in Almodovars All About My Mother) and her Czech girlfriend, a fellow concert pianist named Eliska (Eliska Sorova), is depicted in a nuanced and comfortable way. It is to the films credit that lesbianism is never the issue. Rather, it is the fears and prejudices (and neuroses) of the daughters, a particular trio of attractive young women, that are examined. Its a kind of socially and politically correct Charlies Angels.
Aside from the witty, over-the-top performance of Watling as Elvira, the actresses playing the other two daughters, Sol (Silvia Abascal), a rock singer, and Jimena (Maria Pujalte), a married Yuppie, are bland. Of course, they also have less to work with, dramatically speaking. Their subplots come across extra lightly at the often silly level of TV-drama characters.
Indeed, My Mother Likes Women marks the feature film debut of the directing and writing team of Ines Paris and Daniela Fejerman. Not only are they TV people, the actresses playing all the leads are big stars on various Spanish TV series. The directors attempt to go slightly high-brow comes off as fake and the heightened state of madcap craziness seems simply forced. Its all kind of soap opera clunky, lacking the twisted darkness that Almodovar pulls out of his characters, movie after movie.
Still, the love of two women, at the heart of the film, defies all attempts to cheapen it and rings through clearly.
- Michael Wade Simpsom