The political pretext for Queens was director Manuel Gómez Pereira’s anticipation of Spain’s legalization of gay marriage in 2005. Given the film’s ending, Pereira may have been prescient, but he was smart to temper his story’s jovial expectancy with a sense of caution, coded in the way his film jumps back and forth in time in the lives of three gay couples and their fabulously explosive mothers. The film’s gay characters are not so important as the real queens of the story, played by Verónica Forqué, Carmen Maura, Marisa Paredes, Mercedes Sampietro, and Betiana Blum as zig-zaging rays of fiery mother love. Each of these women responds differently—but with equal difficulty—to their son’s looming marriage: Helena (Sampietro) and hotel proprietress Magda (Maura) are the tight-asses (one is judgmental, the other’s attitude is meant to explain that of her son’s), Nuria (Forqué) and Ofelia (Blum) the loose canons (one sleeps with her future son-in-law, the other’s sheep dog unites the film’s stories like a fairy sprinkling dust across people’s heads), and Reyes (Paredes), a famous actress who’s worked with Almodóvar, the perfect in-between (her unconditional love extends to that of her own future son-in-law, child of the gardener she adores). Given the film’s political motivation, it’s amazing how little it scrapes the surface of the class issues that cloud some of its gay relationships. This is Pereira’s fault for lavishing so much attention on his five actresses, but we still stand to benefit from this adoration. The film’s colors are hornied, the score pure sitcom-tinkle, and the plot has the attention span of a telenovela. Fit for undiscriminating queens perhaps, but when Paredes slinks down the stairs of her home to greet her guests, the mind strains to think of an American film that would dare to regard a woman of Paredes’s age—60 years young and still fabulous—as highly and provocatively as Pereira does in this scene. The film’s sexual-emotional progressivism not only shames our youth-obsessed, sexist film culture but the culture at large.
- Here! Films and Regent Releasing
- 107 min
- Manuel Gómez Pereira
- Joaquín Oristrell, Manuel Gómez Pereira, Yolanda García Serrano
- Verónica Forqué, Carmen Maura, Marisa Paredes, Mercedes Sampietro, Betiana Blum, Gustavo Salmerón, Unax Ugalde, Hugo Silva, Daniel Hendler, Paco León, Raúl Jiménez, Ginés García Millán, Jorge Perugorría, Lluís Homar, Fernando Valverde
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