Film Reviews

Madrid, 1987 Movie Review: Age and Youth Locked in a Bathroom

"Youth like summer brave, age like winter bare," William Shakespeare wrote, a point drawn forcefully home if you're locked inside a small bathroom with a naked, sexagenarian newspaper columnist whose wintery junk is bared for a 12-hour span. Miguel (José Sacristán), the celebrated journalist of director David Trueba's Madrid, 1987, agrees to an interview by Ángela (María Valverde), a beautiful young student, but is interested only in sleeping with her, as he repeatedly and earthily attests. At the borrowed studio of a painter friend, he manipulates her into disrobing before the pair becomes accidentally locked in the bathroom for a long sequence of soliloquies and sexual overtures. He's a tangle of articulate, stentorian cynicism for whom everything new is in stark contrast to a supposedly better past that his actual history suggests is bullshit. He knows he has become a writer's cliché, a dirty old man who can't keep his hands off young undergrads. But despite this self-awareness, he's powerless to hypocrisies and contradictions: Avoid style, he says — it's like an unwanted and distracting third party after setting up Reader and Story on a date. While he points out that his own style is famously distinctive and widely imitated, Ángela reveals her immunity to this condescension and expresses annoyance about his easy generalities about her own generation. But, as he explains to her, young people are free, unencumbered by obligation, and they can fly away; sleeping with her would be flying again, using her wings. That's his excuse, anyway. Miguel uses her beauty and placid demeanor as a screen against which to project his memories of past adventures and the ghost of his libido.

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Chris Packham is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group. VMG publications include Denver Westword, Miami New Times, Phoenix New Times, Dallas Observer, Houston Press and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.