20 June 2011 | jm10701
A strange, strange movie
This is a strange movie.
Alicia, the young wife of a Madrid lawyer named Leo, dies suddenly, leaving him to raise their four-year-old daughter Dafne alone. Dafne cannot go to sleep at night unless Leo impersonates her mother, which he does (with help from an elderly drag queen), but only at bedtime.
Dafne is delighted, telling everybody her mother is still alive, but the transformation causes problems for Leo. The night after her teacher tells Leo that it is not healthy for Dafne to believe he has become her mother, Leo panics, takes off the wig, clothes and makeup, and forces Dafne to admit that he is her father, not her mother. It takes a while, but she finally does; but when she immediately says she wants him to be Mommy all the time, he gives in and does it.
From then on, Dafne never sees him any other way. He takes her to school, the doctor, other kids' parties, and everywhere else they go in drag, and she consistently identifies him as her mother. He takes off the wig and makeup as he drives from her school to his office, and then he puts them back on as he drives in the afternoon to pick her up.
You might expect a story like this to have some elements of comedy in it, but it has none at all; it is a serious drama throughout. But Leo is not made out to be insane, either, nor is it a psychological thriller. It is just the story of a youngish widower and his very young daughter dealing with grief in a particularly implausible way.
It is nicely photographed, though, and Juan Diego Botto is okay as Leo (although he is finally looking middle-aged), and Lucía Fernández Ramos is adorable as Dafne. But the story is just too preposterous to take seriously, and most of the dialog is awful. I guess even the Spanish - who have made some excellent movies recently - are allowed to make a clunker occasionally.