Fernando Trueba's film was awarded a few prizes when it was shown originally. On second viewing recently, I thought it was perhaps over praised. This story of a Spain before its own Civil War is picaresque in tone, and doesn't predict what will happen in the country in a few years, as it plays for whatever laughs it can get.
Fernando makes out like a bandit. After deserting the army, he ends up befriending Manolo, a local artist. Manolo is an anarchist, but that doesn't mean he is best friends with the local priest, who by the way, feels at home in the church as well as in the local brothel. Trueba is perhaps telling us about the duplicity of the clergy in Spain.
Fernando ends up making love to Manolo's four daughters. Even Violeta, who is a lesbian, has her turn with Fernando, but only when he has dressed as a woman for the local carnival. There are no jealousies from any one of the sisters because each one has her turn in a civilized way, or the way it should be!
Fernando Fernan Gomez is the patriarch Manolo. As always, he delivers. Jorge Sanz, as the rascal Fernando, is not as effective as in other films. Maribel Verdu is fine as Rocio, the sister who wants to get married to the local rich boy, Juanito, but she has no problems in having a good time with Fernando. Penelope Cruz, before Hollywood, is effective as Luz, the youngest sister. Finally, Chus Lampreave makes a funny appearance as Dona Asun, the mother of Juanito.
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