A Woman Without Love (1952)

“Since we got married, I’ve had to give up all my pleasures, all my desires, all my opinions.”

Rosario (Rosario Granados) is married to the much older Don Carlos Montero (Julio Villarreal). It’s not a love match, but a marriage brought on by the poverty of Rosario’s family. Rosario and Don Carlos have a child together–Carlitos–and they run an antiques business where Carlos treats Rosario more like a disappointing servant than a wife. One day, the Monteros befriend a young, single engineer, Julio Mistral (Tito Junco), and he shows Rosario attention and kindness. At first, Rosario struggles against her need for love, but then she begins a passionate affair with Julio. Julio wants Rosario to take her child, leave her husband and run off to Brazil with him. Rosario makes the heart-wrenching choice to remain in her loveless, unpleasant marriage.

Twenty-five years later, the Montero family receives news that Julio Mistral died in Brazil leaving behind a fortune. Julio willed this fortune to Rosario’s second son, Miguel (Cordero Loya) who was born after he left. While the males in Montero family celebrate, Rosario is devastated by the news that Julio is dead.

The inheritance leads to a terrible split between the brothers–both now doctors. Carlitos has ambitious plans for research, but he lacks the necessary funds. Meanwhile, Miguel has barely passed his medical exams, and now he’s showered with unexpected wealth. Even though Miguel wants to go into practice with his brother, Carlitos is consumed with envy at Miguel’s good fortune. Soon rumours and speculation about the reason behind the inheritance reach the disgruntled older brother, and the division in the family grows.

Loosely based on the Guy de Maupassant novel, Pierre et Jean (so loosely–you’ll hardly recognize it), the film explores the themes of hypocrisy and greed. Carlitos takes the high moral ground, but in reality base emotions control his mind and heart. While the film is well acted, the abrupt simplicity of the ending denies the darker depths of the human soul. Bunuel fans will want to seek out this early film–it’s a delight to watch. A Woman Without Love is a black and white film–in Spanish with English subtitles.

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