The story of a Hollywood production filming in Franco’s Spain, Fernando Trueba’s The Queen of Spain offers entertainment with no respite.
Carry On Isabellaby Mark Wilshin
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
There’s a kind of apology within The Queen of Spain already; in times of crisis the people don’t want realism, they want entertainment. And so Fernando Trueba attempts to make us forget our woes with a slapstick comedy that feels as old as the story it’s telling. Piling Spanish cinema’s favourite tropes into one; namely historic drama, Franco and the good old fashioned rom com, The Queen of Spain channels the Coen brothers’ Hail Caesar! with a slapstick comedy about Hollywood filmmaking. And it’s perhaps at its strongest in its sideswipes against producers and the film industry.
But there’s also a generous helping of Almodovaresque exuberance in the mannerism with which his actors deliver their lines, if not the reliance on homosexuality, in one form or another, to become the butt of all its gags. And yet, despite a fairly convoluted plot which enables Spanish Hollywood film star Macarena Granada (Penelope Cruz) to become her own Queen Isabella in a prison break plot involving a former revolutionary and Mauthausen prisoner Blas Fontiveros (Antonio Resines). The stellar cast deliver their occasionally leaden dialogue with sparkle, but are underserved by a childish script. And while the film’s look and concept are well styled, with Fifties archive newsreels and wonderful make-up and costumes, Fernando Trueba’s Hollywood parody makes one desperately nostalgic for Hollywood’s Golden Age.
The Queen of Spain is now showing at the 67th Berlin Film Festival