Monday, January 19, 2009

Siete Mesas de Billar Francés (Seven Billard Tables)

This is the type of movie that seldom audiences outside of Spain get the opportunity to watch and is truly a shame as is a drama with light comic moments that’s highly enjoyable for the story it tells and the remarkable performances by the lead actresses.

What you will see in the screen is a the story of a man that dies and leaves behind a daughter, his lover, his friends, a depilated and debt full billiard joint with seven carom or carambole tables. But actually this is the story of three women that have to face what life can bring unexpectedly and that will have to overcome past fears, habits and situations to be able to go ahead with their lives.

Angela (Maribel Verdu), the daughter with her son Guille arrives to the city only to find that his father died three hours ago. She learns that his father business is almost bankrupt, decides to sell and after the burial goes back home only to find that her husband has disappeared the day she left, that for years he has been a corrupted policeman and that he has another family with a son that’s older than Guille. So, she goes back to the city and decides to invest her little savings in opening the billiard house and revive her father billiard team. But she has to deal with everything not easily going the right way, including the suddenly reappearance of her fugitive husband and most of all to overcome the damage that her father did to her.

Charo is in my opinion the most interesting character and is outstandingly performed by Blanca Portillo. She’s the dead man lover that never wanted to marry her. This is such a complex and layered character that when finally from being a rude and bitter woman starts to become more humble, the transformation is absolutely credible. Most interesting is her relation with her mother, as she’s so attached to her mother that does not want to comply her mother wish to let her go to a seniors residence. By the way Charo’s mother performance is outstandingly good.

Last you have a secondary character Evelin (Lorena Vidal) a young lively woman from Honduras that’s sending home money for her husband airplane ticket. She works at the billiard joint, has a local lover but wants her husband to come. She will find that distance definitively changes everything in the most unpleasant ways.

In my opinion a story with these lead/secondary characters easily could have been a awful melodramatic drama; but Gracia Querejeta, that directed and co wrote the script, does a great job balancing the drama with light humor, fast character development and fast story twists presentation that totally grabs your attention and interest. But she also was able to get from her actors some great performances, including the child actor that plays Guille and is the only really sane character in a world of troubled adults.

As a movie is not exceptional but has above average production values, so it is no surprise that out of the 11 wins and 21 nominations this film has accumulated in Spain fests and awards, almost all are for actors and the screenplay. Worth mentioning is Blanca Portillo Silver Seashell win for Best Actress at 2008 San Sebastian fest where the film was in competition and Maribel Verdu win for Best Lead Actress at the 2008 Goya Awards where Amparo Baro that plays Charo’s mother won the Best Supporting Actress award.

Not a masterpiece but a very interesting women story with strong performances that I’m positive will capture the attention and interest of many woman allover the world if only they could have the opportunity to watch it. So, if you have the opportunity I suggest you do not miss it.


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