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The Independent Critic

Jose Sacristan, Maria Valverde, Ramon Fontsere
David Trueba
104 Mins.
Breaking Glass Pictures


 "Madrid, 1987" Teases and Taunts  
Miguel (Jose Sacristan) is a feared and respected journalist during a period of social and political transition in Span.

Angela (Maria Valverde) is a young journalism student who has arranged an interview with the notoriously feisty and randy writer.

His intentions are clearly sexual; hers are less clear. Unusual circumstances force them together for a far greater period of time than either of them imagined; locked in a bathroom, both naked, without the possibility of escape. Removed from an outside world that binds them to the labels and limitations of their generations, intellect, cultures and life experiences, the two experience a remarkable and compelling shift in power and vulnerability over the course of the next twenty-four hours.

An official selection of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, Madrid, 1987 is a compelling and thought-provoking film with a tremendous performance by veteran actor Jose Sacristan, a 75-year-old whose acting career dates back to 1963 and includes numerous acting prizes of a mostly festival nature along the way. Written and directed by David Trueba, Madrid, 1987 has the challenge of taking place almost exclusively within the confines of a not very fancy bathroom, a setting that only adds to the palpable tension that often exists between the writer and the student and the student and the writer.

As the rather randy writer who is quite comfortable with his semblance of power in life, Jose Sacristan exudes a quiet yet cocksure confidence that suggests a lived in awareness of the culture of his character. His character, Miguel, is a chain-smoking and drinking man whose many won battles have left him able to wax poetic and philosophical while aiming squarely at his target. As the younger student, Maria Valverde's performance is a quieter one that really only starts to swirl with excitement as the film moves on. Watching the two of these actors and how their characters shift is involving cinema, though one could also make the argument that there are moments when Madrid, 1987 feels uncooked and so involved in regional issues that one can't help but wonder if it will hold appeal for audiences outside of Europe.

If only to watch the performance of Sacristan, one can hope so.

D.P. Leonor Rodriguez lenses the film in a straightforward yet effective manner, while Laura Renau's production design takes a grimy setting and makes it an interesting third character.

Madrid, 1987 has been picked up by Breaking Glass Pictures for a home video release on February 26th, 2013 with an order date of 2/5/13. The Spanish language film will most appeal to those who appreciate foreign arthouse cinema, though anyone familiar with Spain's political and cultural history will find much to appreciate in the dialogue and back-and-forth banter that occurs between Miguel and Angela.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic