Private Lives (2001)

 “Anyone who survives has to change.”

private-lives42-year-old Carmen (Cecilia Roth) leaves Madrid and returns home to her native Argentina to visit her dying father. She’s lived in Spain for the past twenty years with infrequent, brief trips home.

Carmen has arranged to rent an apartment during her two-week stay, and she’s also arranged for the services of a young male model Gustavo (Gael Garcia Bernal) and a female companion. While Gustavo wants to get to know Carmen better, she holds him and everyone else at a distance. Carmen clearly has emotional problems, but her family is very adept at hiding secrets. Younger sister Ana (Dolores Fonzi) is determined to extract Carmen’s secrets from her brother-in-law Dr Rossemberg (Luis Ziembrowsky).

Part kinkfest, Private Lives fails to adequately explore many issues dragged front and centre by the script. Several scenes cover Carmen’s erotic fetishes, but there’s little substance–beyond the moaning and the grinding–to explain Carmen’s past. Instead the emphasis is on kink–at least for the scenes in Carmen’s apartment. The film shifts focus between Carmen’s fetishes and Ana’s determination to discover the truth about Carmen’s past. The result is a film that addresses Carmen’s kinkiness, but fails to delve into Carmen’s political past. There’s so much here politically that could be explored, but it isn’t. The sense remains, however, that both Gustavo and Ana are amazingly ignorant about life in Argentina before they were born. Ultimately, the most interesting aspect of the film is Carmen’s need to recreate a cell-like structure for gratification. Private Lives is a tepid drama made a little steamier with Cecilia Roth’s charged sexuality. In Spanish with English subtitles. From director Fito Paez.

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Filed under Argentinean, Cecilia Roth

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