11 January 2003 | khatcher-2
Such was the romantic Madrid of the 70s in the so-called popular neighbourhoods, romances floated over the balconies; from such a simple and short story by Almudena Grandes, Juan Vicente Córdoba has constructed and recreated an amazingly attractive story.
Having been badly bitten by Bigas Luna's fantasies based on fetiche-laden novelas by Almudena Grandes - `Las Edades de Lulú' (1990) (qv) - and Gerardo Herrero's `Malena es un Nombre de Tango' (1996) (qv) - it might well have been a good idea to miss this one given the material from which the film originates. However, one should not condemn a priori and out of hand, whatever one's instincts may be for steering clear of anything to do with the aforementioned writer. Almudena Grandes is definitely not my cup of tea; however `Aunque tú no lo sepas' is very much Sr. Córdoba's story, loosely based on and recreated from `El Vocabulario de los Balcones' by Grandes.
Young love may well flutter across balconies, though twenty years later on in life, such passions do not tend to waft about over city streets as easily as erstwhile. From there, a beautifully constructed story develops, jumping back and forth over the twenty year interval, filling in different moments of the young Lucía and Juan as they recall the past.
Silvia Munt and Gary Piquer offer deep-felt performances; even their wordless dialogues express so much more than mere words, such that you almost see their innermost thoughts amid the silence or that beautiful little leit-motif. Poignant, masterfully captured for the screen. Ever since Colometa in `La Plaza del Diamante' (1981) based on the book in Catalonian by Mercè Roboredo, derived from a TV series of the same name and not included on IMDb, I have tried to keep contact with Silvia Munt, but have only had the luck to find her on a few occasions, most memorably in `Alas de Mariposa' (1991) and in that lovely little masterpiece `Secretos del Corazón' (1997) (qv) by Montxo Armendáriz.
`Aunque tú no lo sepas' did very well in bringing back memories of Spain in the mid seventies - all those 2cv and 850 cars, including a splendid Citroën DS21, and some very authentic Derbi motorcycles (I had one myself!), combined with `L'Estaca' sung by Joan Manuel Serrat, with contributions from José Luis Perailes, a very brief extract from Los Pekinikes, and footage from the second channel's TV news programme and the splendid series `El Hombre y La Tierra' (specifically `El Lobo') by Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente (qv), serve admirably as a backdrop in this film.
More than admirable is Ángel Illarramendi's musical contribution: a fragile melody in form of a leit-motif appears on a cello, but later is transformed into various instruments and even orchestrated. Carefully present at strategic moments this musical theme enhances visual concepts, lending harmonious colouring to the film's poignant moments. Superbly intelligent use of what is basically a simple melody but which goes through variations and different treatments.
This is excellent cinema for the discerning, very definitely a film which I must see again. Slightly above 8/10 on my scale - and that is a very high recommendation in itself.