Belle Epoque | Chicago Reader

Belle Epoque

It's interesting to speculate why this ho-hum period sex comedy by Fernando Trueba won the 1993 Oscar for best foreign film (over The Scent of Green Papaya, Farewell My Concubine, and The Wedding Banquet): could it simply be that it's the most Hollywoodish? The plot, set during the last days of the Spanish monarchy in 1931, bears a distant resemblance to Raoul Walsh's The King and Four Queens and you may be reminded momentarily of Meet Me in St. Louis, but this picture isn't within hailing distance of either—or of one of its conscious models, Jean Renoir's A Day in the Country. Still, it's fairly inoffensive and intermittently charming. An army deserter winds up in the home of an old painter (Fernando Fernan Gomez, who gives the most likable performance) with four single daughters, all of whom have romances with the young man. Eventually the missing mother, an opera singer, turns up with her lover, and other complications ensue. With Jorge Sanz, Maribel Verdu, Ariadna Gil, Miriam Diaz-Aroca, Penelope Cruz, and Mary Carmen Ramirez. In Spanish with subtitles. 108 min.

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