A 2008 movie directed by Danny Boyle
The Sundance Channel presents a pair of acclaimed foreign films from 2003: the Spanish musical romantic comedy THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BED and British director Michael Winterbottom's brilliant and harrowing IN THIS WORLD. See individual titles for plot … see full wiki
Authors Note: This review is on The Other Side of the Bed only
What do you get when you add two coupleswell maybe threefour loverswell maybe sixbed-swapping, very campy and horribly choreographed musical numbers, and a bizarre theory of sexual relations between friends? Why the Spanish musical-romantic-comedy hit (in Spain), The Other Side of the Bed.
I will admit the only reason I rented this film was because Paz Vega of Sex and Lucia fame was cast in one of the staring role, otherwise...But despite the bad love songs, and equally dismal dance numbers, I bought into this film, little, by little, though I knew what direction the story was taking me almost from the start. High drama, intrigue, and suspense this is not, but I enjoyed it none-the-less. I have to admit that is refreshing to know that other cultures struggle with the same sexual issues we American seem to obsess over, but they seem to do it with far less anxiety and social stigmatization.
Directed by Emilio Martinez-Lazaro The Other Side of the Bed opens with a (silly, convoluted) love ballad: Sonia (beautiful, exotic Paz Vega, Nobody Knows Anything 1999, Sex and Lucia 2001, Talk To Her 2002, Carmen 2003) and Paula (Natalia Verbeke, Nobody Knows Anything 1999, Passionate People 2002, Soccer Days 2003) affectionately serenade their lovers as they wake to a new day. Unbeknownst to Sonia, her lover Javier (Ernesto Alterio, Wild Tango 1993, Not Love, Just Frenzy 1996, Sleepless in Madrid 1998, Soccer Days 2003), a habitual philanderer, is having a newly minted affair with Paula, whose lover, a very disheveled, albeit lovable teddy bear Pedro (Guillermo Toledo, Sleepless in Madrid 1998, Butterfly Tongues 2000, Soccer Days 2003), she has just cast, when she and Javier decide to set up house. Only Javier cannot seem to cut his ties with Sonia (and who can blame him?). Meanwhile, Pedro, cant let go of Paula and falls into a mild depression, and has Paula followed by a none-to-competent private detective. But, Sonia not happy with the rut she and Javier have fallen into, begins to have eyes for, and eventually sleeps with, Pedro who she is trying to find a new girlfriend for.
And not to be forgotten is Rafa (Alberto San Juan, Airbag 1997, Between Your Legs 1999, Soccer Days 2003), a brutish, self-proclaimed taxi driver who (allegedly) makes the rounds, but then falls apart when his girlfriend throws him over for another man. Add to this mishmash a former boyfriend (Paulas) turned gay, a lesbian performance artist (Sonias friend), impromptu song and dance routines, and panoply of lies, misdirected & confused feelings and comedic misunderstandings. Did I mention that the central characters are all friends, which underlies one of the central themes in The Other Side of the Bed: Everyone is bisexual and friends fall in love with each other all the time. But the real true is that everyone is mistrustful and nobody is satisfied with loving the one they're with, believing (foolishly), that the honey is always sweeter in the other hive across the grove (isnt that an all too familiar theme?)!
My Thoughts, Impressions, & Bemused Musings
The Other Side of the Bed walks a fine line between romantic comedy, musical, and sexual farce. After a while it is hard to keep straight who is sleeping with whom and for what reason.
Director Emilio Martinez-Lazaro moves the movie along at a brisk pace, and the dialog as well as the sub-titles come in a lighting fast blast that make it hard at times to catch your breath let alone keep up with the ever evolving, but predictable story line.
And the musical numbers; well lets just say Hollywood and Bollywood are safe; the numbers lack the spit and polish and brassy razzle-dazzle of a Chicago style production, and the colorful, well choreographed panache that so marks Indias staple fair. The musical numbers in The Other Side of the Bed are, quite, sweet, romantic fair that works better against the backdrop of chaotic comedy serving to humanize the characters, and legitimize their immoral behaviors, and selfish, immature, longings.
Be forewarned, this is adult fare; while the sex in The Other Side of the Bed is not in the same league as Sex and Lucia, the nudity is unabashed and unapologetic. But it doesnt seek to exploit like a Hollywood release might; it seems natural, apart of the scenery.
In the final analysis, I cant help but recommend The Other Side of the Bed. Though campy, it teaches a valuable and timeless lesson without being too preachy: that is be thankful for what you have, for the juice is not always as sweet on the other side of the meadow.
Running time: 114 minutes; In Spanish, with English subtitles; Rated R (sex, nudity).
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age
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