Thursday, 9 February 2012

Manuela Vellés in Julio Medem's "Caótica Ana" [2007 Spain]

With "Caótica Ana" [Eng. Title: Chaotic Ana], I've covered to-date the entire feature-length filmography of maestro Julio Medem. I took my time posting this review mainly for two reasons - I wanted this to coincide with the release of his latest film (jointly credited with six other directors that also includes Gaspar Noé), "7 días en la Habana", out middle of March. The other reason is that this happens to be my least favourite Medem.

I'm not implying that this is in any way a terrible film - far from it. Made after a gap of nearly six years, the previous one being his critically acclaimed Lucía y el Sexo, it has all the intense passion and graceful beauty we've come to expect from Julio Medem's films, his brilliant cinematic-eye even experiments with some outrageous camera angles here, the music is magical, and Jocelyn Pook would also later collaborate in Medem's next film Habitación en Roma. The snappy comic-book style editing by Medem himself also helps  narrate the film effectively. This may even be his most expensive production judging by the vast number of locations used - Ibiza, Madrid, New York and Arizona to name a few.

The reason for this film not featuring among my favourites is perhaps the screenplay that seems to tackle too many themes with equal intensity that makes it difficult for us to reflect upon the titular character's complexity. That may well be the intention of the director, to show the 'chaotic' nature of the main character, but it doesn't engage us beyond the visual level to the extent his earlier classics did, perhaps because there wasn't enough time, and consequently depth. A case in point is the idea of 'opening doors' to face up to past ghosts, which I'm sure would have been more rewarding if additional screen time was dedicated. Having said that, the film is replete with flashes of Sr. Medem's genius, notably the manner in which the opening scene of the hawk and dove sets up the penultimate scene 'poetically'. Also, Medem's cheeky sense of humour is amply evident throughout the film - the charmer that he is, he knows how to push the boundaries without causing too much alarm. Needless to say, Recommended Viewing..!

DVD Details:
As I mentioned in an earlier Medem review, you get great value for money by buying the Julio Medem 6-DVD box-set rather than buying his films individually. That's the one I recommend again.

Amazon 6-DVD Box set Link

Ana lives with her father in a cave in Ibiza - they make a living selling Ana's paintings to tourists (the artworks were originally by Medem's late sister Ana, to whom this film is also dedicated). Justine, a patron of arts sees her work and invites Ana back to Madrid, where she could live and work alongside other talented young people to explore her artistic potential. While having an optimistic (and at times naive) outlook on life in general, Ana also possesses acute senses, to the extent that she could even see herself and people across earlier lives and times. She meets fellow student Said and falls in love with him instantly, sensing a deep connection between them. After Said leaves unexpectedly, Ana continues to follows her instincts, which leads her to New York. Medem describes the film as a journey, a voyage of discovery Ana undertakes to understand herself, and the world around her.

Compilation: Manuela Vellés

Manuela Vellés in Caótica Ana

Scene Guide:
  • Brief scene, no nudity but interesting nevertheless, at a club in Ibiza. Ana has this special faculty to recognise people from their past lives, After showing us a Roman centurion and a Napoleonic soldier who she finds instinctively repulsive, she sees a guy who was apparently a horse in earlier life..! :D
  • It appears Ana is the only nudist at the beach. Ana is played by the charming actress with the most disarming smile, Manuela Vellés.
  • Ana in one of the school plays.
  • Ana and Said hit it off and end up in bed. There's an air of tenderness despite the apparently intense love making.
  • Later that night Said is restless and had to be consoled by Ana in the bathroom - disturbing dreams, he says.
  • Stowing away in the yacht of her best friend's estranged dad, Ana acts the catalyst to reconnect him to parenthood.
  • A revelation - a distraught Ana realises what her actual connection with Said in a previous life was.
  • New York. Ana is part of the catering crew for a senator who allegedly was largely responsible for the decision to wage war on Iraq. She offers herself readily and the dialogues are in English, so you'll get the idea of what's going on. It starts out in a kinky fashion but soon turns ugly and unpleasant, after Ana's 'poetic act' goes unappreciated..!
  • Full circle, Ana at the beach again to finish things off nicely.


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