Sunday, 21 August 2011

Sandra Ballesteros & co in "El lado Oscuro del Corazón" [1992, Argentina]

Eliseo Subiela is one of Argentina's surreal directors who tends to delve into the esoteric, I've several films of his in my collection, and among them, his 1992 romantic drama "El lado Oscuro del Corazón" [Eng. Title: The Dark Side of the Heart] remains my favourite. The same can't be said of my DVD from which this compilation was made - the full-frame transfer is of poor quality. Having said that, mine is an old edition DVD (2004) and I don't know if there have been subsequent editions, but if the film ever gets a remastered release, this post will of course be updated.

That however is the only negative observation in this review. The film itself is beautifully crafted, and told with great passion and love. The screenplay, direction, soundtrack and particularly the script is exemplary, with a lot of dialogues taken from the poetry of Mario Benedetti (who incidentally acts in the film too - as a German poet).

In Subiela films, if you look beyond the subject he'd chosen and step into his world, you'll begin to enjoy his quirky interpretations and exuberant but graceful style of film-making. Even though he may occasionally borrow thematic elements from other masters, his films on the whole are totally unique and thought provoking.

Oliverio is a dreamer - a poet who is looking to meet the perfect woman in his life - a woman who can make him literally 'fly'. He steadfastly refuses to 'grow up' and take responsibility - he had already separated from his wife, and now shuttles between Buenos Aires and Montenegro whenever he needs money, to prostitute his writing talents for an advertising agency. It is during one of these trips that he meets Ana, a single mother who similarly prostitutes her body to the extent needed to live and save up for her child. Unlike Oliverio, Ana has a practical goal typical of most women, and despite knowing that, Oliverio falls in love. Yes - they fly every time they make love, but that alone apparently isn't enough for them to stay together. In addition to these two lovers, you have Oliverio's nagging conscience, and 'Death' herself who keeps following him around, with some rather interesting interactions between them. Loosely translating one of their conversations from memory, "...You keep following me - are you in love with me?" he asks. "Why don't you take me... I bet you must be dying to feel my hand between your legs, and to have your tits squeezed, you fucking death". She replies, "I could take you, but you still use words that stop me from doing so." This is the kind of tone used throughout the film.

Despite the DVD quality, this is a gem of a film - incredibly romantic and gloriously escapist. It is also perhaps among Argentina's all-time top twenty films, and therefore, Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Compilation: Miriam Odorica, Delfina Grau, Marisa Aguilera, Sandra Ballesteros, and Inés Vernengo

Miriam Odorica, Delfina Grau, Marisa Aguilera, Sandra Ballesteros, and Inés Vernengo in El Lado Oscuro del Corazón

Scene Guide:
  • Funny scene - Oliverio tells the woman what he expects - he doesn't mind whether they stink or are ugly, as long as they can make him fly. You'll see what happens to those who didn't. The wholesome woman is played by Miriam Odorica.
  • Oliverio returns to the studio he shares with his sculptor friend. The woman isn't fazed by being seen naked by others. Played by Delfina Grau.
  • I've left a couple of minutes of the scene preceding the nudity, where Oliverio extols the rapacious sexual appetite of 'hairy' women, whose vagina work like a vacuum cleaner - apparently. Whatever the case, she too fails to make him fly that night. The hairy woman is played by Marisa Aguilera.
  • Oliverio and Ana finally make love - but just as they start levitating, Ana pleads him to stop. Ana is played by the very Argentinian beauty, Sandra Ballesteros.
  • Delfina again - this time frolicking in the apartment.
  • Oliverio brings home a blind woman this time. While she's intelligent and good in bed - all she could do was only 'see' colours during orgasm. The blind woman is played by Inés Vernengo.
  • Seminal scene - of Ana and Olverio together, watched disapprovingly by 'Death'.


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