The title recalls the silent Rudolph Valentino classic 'Blood and Sand', and not without good reason: although made in France the film is set close enough to the Spanish border for some overlap of culture, in particular the corrida de toros. Strictly speaking, it isn't a bullfighting film at all, but more of a male bonding character study, about an ambitious matador who becomes disillusioned after befriending a sensitive doctor with a profound dislike of the sport dating back to his childhood during the Spanish Civil War. There's a teasing suggestion that their relationship might develop into something physical, and too bad it never does: it would have added an entirely new dimension to the standard toreador tradition of machismo. Writer director Jeanne Labrune's documentary training adds a vivid, unsettling realism to several bullfight and abattoir scenes, and newcomer Patrick Catalifo, as the troubled matador Francisco, shares some of Valentino's smoldering, photogenic intensity.
(Postscript/apology: the above impressions were salvaged from a press screening in which several reels of the film were obviously jumbled. A report on the properly sequenced film might have read totally different.)
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