Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Peppermint Frappe

Directed by Carlos Saura and written by Saura, Rafael Azcona, and Angelino Fons, Peppermint Frappe is the story of a man’s obsession with his friend’s wife whom he believes was the woman he fell in love with some years ago. The film is Saura’s fifth feature and his first collaboration with Geraldine Chaplin whom he was in a relationship with for more than a decade. Also starring Jose Luis Lopez Vasquez, Alfredo Mayo, and Ana Maria Custodio. Peppermint Frappe is a strange yet entrancing film from Carlos Saura.

Julian (Jose Luis Lopez Vasquez) is a physician who runs a clinic with a shy though helpful nurse named Ana (Geraldine Chaplin). When Julian decides to meet his old friend Pablo (Alfredo Mayo) and his mother (Ana Maria Custodio), Julian meets Pablo’s new wife in a beautiful yet young blonde named Elena (Geraldine Chaplin). Julian falls for Elena whom he believes was the same women he had met years ago at a small town during Holy Week where she was banging a drum. Though Elena doesn’t recall being in that town despite being gracious towards Julian as he takes around town. Julian feels like he’s not doing enough as he turns his attention towards Ana, who resembles Elena, as he tries to get her out of her quiet persona.

When Julian decides to take Elena and Pablo to his old countryside cottage for a weekend, he is wowed by Elena’s free-spirited persona as he begins to recall old childhood memories. Though Elena is impressed by Julian’s home, she still to give in to his advances though he takes pictures of her dancing as he is still yearning for her. After the weekend ends, Julian remains transfixed by Elena as he also has an affair with Ana who wonders about this other woman. When Julian realizes that Elena doesn’t really want to do anything with Julian other than be a source of amusement. Julian decides to create his own scheme as he asks Pablo and Elena to come to his cottage for the weekend where they would meet Ana.

The film is about a man’s obsession with a woman whom he believes looks like someone he knew years ago. Yet, when she politely refuses his advances and dodge his questions. His obsession intensifies while starting to turn his attention towards his nurse who resembles the woman he’s falling for though she is a completely different person than the one he’s falling for. Throughout the film, the man would have flashbacks about his childhood including a brief memory of the woman he had seen back at the march at Holy Week. The film also emphasizes on the peppermint frappe drink that he and his guests also drink which serves as a character in the film.

The script is a study of obsession and memory as Carlos Saura and his co-writers dwell into the mind of Julian and why he’s so entranced by Elena. Then there’s Ana, the woman who sort of resembles Elena as there’s more revelations about her which is why she presents the great opposite towards Elena. Saura’s direction is truly mesmerizing in the way he presents the film with slow yet steady camera movements to dwell into the location or a room. Plus, he’s always showing what is happening from the view of Julian as he watches with great attention towards Elena as she dances to a rock song on an old exterior dance floor.

The film also plays up to the idea of memory as all of the flashback scenes are presented in black-and-white. Saura’s direction is also intimate for the scenes that occurs throughout the film while features some amazing compositions such as Julian looking up Elena as she walks down a spiral staircase. There’s also a bit of surrealism that plays throughout the film due to the fact that Geraldine Chaplin plays the two prominent female figures in the film as Saura does pay tribute a bit to Luis Bunuel. The overall film is a superb yet rich study of obsession and memory in the mind of Carlos Saura.

Cinematographer Luis Cuadrado does an excellent job with the film‘s colorful yet hypnotic photography for many of the film‘s scenes while the black-and-white flashback scenes are done with a wonderful sense of grain and documentary-like style to emphasize the idea of memory. Editor Pablo G. del Amo does a nice job with the film’s editing in presenting it with a straightforward manner while using a bit of rhythmic cuts for some of the livelier moments of the film. Art director Emilio Sanz de Soto and set decorator Wolfgang Burmann do a great job with the look of Julian‘s apartment as well as the decayed world of his cottage to exemplify his old world ideals. The film’s score by Luis de Pablo is wonderful for its plaintive, harp-drive score along with a percussive-driven piece to play up Julian‘s memory as the soundtrack also includes an opera piece and a rock song by Los Canarios that Elena dances to.

The casting for the film is great as it features appearances from Emiliano Redondo as a friend of Pablo and Ana Maria Custodio as Pablo’s mother. Alfredo Mayo is amazing as Pablo, Julian’s old childhood friend who is a lively yet playful man that likes to mess around and do things that the more reserved Julian is reluctant to do. Jose Luis Lopez Vasquez is brilliant as Julian, physician who becomes obsessed with Elena while dealing with his memories of the woman he met as he also becomes more manipulative when dealing with Ana.

Finally, there’s Geraldine Chaplin in a spectacular performance in the dual roles of Elena and Ana. For Elena, Chaplin sports a blond wig as well as a loose performance as a woman who likes to mock Julian while being very playful. In the role of Ana, Chaplin goes for a more reserved look to be plain, shy, and vulnerable to exemplify Ana’s longing towards Julian. Chaplin truly brings something that is unique to both performance as it’s really one of her best in a long revered career that is just as good as her legendary father.

Peppermint Frappe is a vibrant yet enchanting film from Carlos Saura featuring a radiant yet adventurous performance from Geraldine Chaplin. Fans of Spanish cinema will definitely see this as a gem while it’s also a good starting point for those interested in the works of Carlos Saura. Notably as this film is among one of the key collaborations between him and former-lover Geraldine Chaplin that is among one of the best director-actor collaborations. In the end, Peppermint Frappe is a haunting but sensational film from Carlos Saura.

Carlos Saura Films: (Cuenca) - (The Delinquents (1960 film)) - (Weeping for a Bandit) - (La caza) - (Stress is Three) - (Honeycomb) - (The Garden of Delights) - (Ana and the Wolves) - (Cousin Angelica) - Cria Cuervos... - (Elisa, vida mia) - (Blindfolded Eyes) - (Mama Turns 100) - (Faster, Faster) - (Blood Wedding) - (Sweet Hours) - (Antonieta) - (Carmen (1983 film)) - (Los Zancos) - (El amor brujo) - (El Dorado (1988 film)) - (The Dark Night) - (Ay Carmela!) - (The South) - (Marathon) - (Sevillanas) - (Outrage) - (Flamenco) - (Taxi (1996 film)) - (Little Bird) - (Tango) - (Goya in Bordeaux) - (Bunuel and King Solomon’s Table) - (Salome) - (The 7th Day) - (Iberia) - (Fados) - (I, Don Giovanni) - (Flamenco, Flamenco)

© thevoid99 2011

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