Vicente Aranda has never been known to mince words, at least as far as his films were concerned – he relishes exposing dirt from under the carpet, and his drama “Celos” [Eng. Title: Jealousy] is no different – Spanish jealousy (particularly male) is almost a cliché in my neck of the woods, even if it’s not particularly a hot topic in Spain.
It all starts when truck driver Antonio discovers an old photograph of Carmen embracing a handsome young man, and wonders if they were once lovers – he’s after all about to marry her in a few days. However, despite Carmen’s insistence to the contrary, Antonio couldn’t let it lie, and goes to extraordinary lengths to determine the man’s identity and history. The more he digs the past, stranger the facts emerge, that will threaten his relationship with Carmen and their marriage. Through his obsession, he develops a one-sided relationship with a man he’d never even met, built on half-truths fed by friends – both his and Carmen’s. It is now apparent to him that in order to return to normalcy, he’ll need to ‘erase’ from his mind José – the stranger in the photograph, one way or another…
This is my second review of the film, but it merely reinforces the fact that Sr. Aranda needn’t particularly worry about it sparking jealousy from other film makers – this is nowhere near the standard of his earlier classics. The biggest problem with the film is its screenplay, which fails to articulate the complex set of emotions and circumstances that leads to jealousy. Antonio’s reactions outrageously take leave of common sense, and all his repetitive episodes, without giving tangible reasons for his obsession, only make us loath him. As does the character we’re supposed to feel empathy with – Carmen – she desperately tries to convince Antonio of his sexual prowess by exaggerating her orgasms, ostensibly to make him feel less insecure, but it has the opposite effect. The only noteworthy aspect of the film is the performance by Aitana Sánchez-Gijón playing Carmen, who despite her character’s limitations, manages to keep us seated. But there are far better films out there that have delved into jealousy – Chabrol’s Une Partie de Plaisir is just one example. This film however, is for Vicente Aranda completists only.
The Nudity: Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Daniel Giménez Cacho, and Itziar Miranda
As can be expected from Vicente Aranda, this film also features sex and nudity, but alas, they still fail to raise it beyond the mediocre.