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Review: Sólo Con Tu Pareja

Banned for many years in Mexico, the film filters the sexual agency and paranoia of its characters through a telenovela scrim.

Sólo Con Tu Pareja
Photo: IFC Films

Though Sólo Con Tu Pareja would achieve considerable acclaim on the international circuit and help launch Alfono Cuarón’s Hollywood career, it’s taken the filmmaker’s feature-length debut more than a decade to travel north of the border. Banned for many years in Mexico, the film filters the sexual agency and paranoia of its characters through a telenovela scrim, bringing to mind the baroque effervescence of Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Delicatessen, only with a more vital social framework. The film’s English title, Love in the Time of Hysteria—a tribute to Gabriel García Marquez’s magical realist masterpiece Love in the Time of Cholera—emphasizes Cuarón’s desire to study how sexual behavior is shaped by the times, in this case the rising AIDS crisis. This bawdy comedy’s tour-de-force is a prolonged sequence during which a very busy lothario, Tomás Tomás (Daniel Giménez Cacho), scales the exterior of his apartment in order to bed two different women, singing a nursery rhyme to keep his balance only to be distracted by the beautiful flight attendant who’s just moved into the residence nestled between his bachelor pad and his doctor-friend’s apartment. When one of the women, Silvia (Dobrina Liubomirova), learns that she’s been played for a fool, she fudges the man’s medical results to indicate that he’s HIV-positive, which leads the man down a staccato road toward suicide. The film is like a champagne bottle’s ricocheting cork—an explosion of poppy camera maneuvers, literary allusions, chatty reiterations, raunchy sex, and spastic flights of fantasy rich in cultural flavor (one of the man’s nightmares accommodates a Lucha Libre fighter and a bullfighting castrati). Cuarón sustains the fizziness throughout, evoking one of those randy Euro-trash commercials that are too hot for American television. A little one-note perhaps, but consistently funny and sexy.

Cast: Daniel Giménez Cacho, Claudia Ramírez, Luis de Icaza, Astrid Hadad, Dobrina Liubomirova, Isabel Benet, Toshirô Hisaki, Carlos Nakasone, Ricardo Dalmacci, Claudia Fernández, Luz María Jerez, Nevil Wilton Director: Alfonso Cuarón Screenwriter: Alfonso Cuarón, Carlos Cuarón Distributor: IFC First Take Running Time: 94 min Rating: NR Year: 1991 Buy: Video

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