Sony Picture Classics presents
The Flower of My Secret (1995)
"I'm in love with the person I think I'm in love with."- Leo (Marisa Paredes)
Stars: Marisa Paredes, Juan Echanove, Carmen Elias, Rossy De Palma, Chus Lampreave
Other Stars: Joaquin Cortes, Manuela Vargas
Director: Pedro Almod要ar
MPAA Rating: R for language and brief sexuality
Run Time: 01h:45m:35s
Release Date: 2005-04-12
DVD ReviewPedro Almod要ar seems to have cornered the market when it comes to portraying accomplished, high-maintenance women on screen; he's got a few competitors (Nora Ephron and James L. Brooks come to mind), but Almod要ar has a reveling quality in the portrayal of neuroses that's pretty much unrivaled. The Flower of My Secret is very much of a piece with the rest of his work, and as such it's a sharp, smart and funny film, that's even occasionally sentimental.
Leo (Marisa Paredes) has issues. She pines for Paco, her husband, who is in the military and is stationed in Bosnia (this is the late 1990s), part of the peacekeeping effort; we soon sense, though, that geography may be far down the list on problems with this marriage. Leo's closely guarded secret is that she writes under a pseudonym; as Amanda Gris, she is a wildly successful romance novelist, with each new book a ballyhooed publishing event. Of course she wants more: literary respectability, in the form of a grittier book; a true connection with her man; in general, a sense of contentment that eludes her, and in the pursuit of which she may be her own worst enemy. The film follows her various travailsﾑshe decides, for instance, that she would like to be a literary critic, and her first outing for the newspaper is a column savaging the work of Amanda Gris. (Not since Charles Foster Kane finished Jed Leland's review of Susan Alexander's opera debut have we seen such a display of literary self-loathing on screen.) Part of why Leo gets the gig is because Angel (Juan Echanove), an editor at the paper, is absolutely smitten with her; he in fact writes the counterpoint column, celebrating Amanda Gris, an unintentional love letter to his new crush.
The film is full of these sorts of lovely ironies and situations; things often are not what they seem, or at least are not the way Leo perceives them. This includes her interactions with her difficult mother and hateful sister, and with her devoted housekeeper, a fantastically talented flamenco dancer with a problematic son. Almod要ar veteran Paredes is marvelous in the lead roleﾑLeo is never less than a pain in the ass, but she's got a charm and a candor about her hopes and desires that makes her tremendously endearing. And as a writer/director, Almod要ar doesn't skimp on visual splendor; the deep, intoxicating reds and blues of the production design are often luscious to look at, and the filmmaker and his production team modulate them carefully through the run of the movie. I know that for some, Almodóvar's films can be an acquired taste, and this one isn't likely to change your mind either way about the director and his work; I'm an unabashed fan, as you can probably tell, and this is as good an example as any of what his work is all about.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Very strong effort here from Sony; the movie's production design is an integral part of the storytelling, and it's well transferred, with a steady and rich palette.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: It's been a while since Spanish class in high school, but things here seem to sound fine, with a fair balance between dialogue and scoring.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring All About My Mother, Mad Love, Talk To Her
Extras Review: The only extra of note is a making-of piece (19m:46s) which is heavy on clips from the film, and features interviews with the director and the principal members of the cast. Most of the talk is little more than testimonials to Almod要ar, who is modestly more interesting, discussing the movie and his principal theme, of abandonment.
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsA typically neurosis-laden romantic comedy from Pedro Almod要ar, on a disc with strong technical values, though not much in the way of extras.
Jon Danziger 2005-04-11