Princesas (Spain 2005)

Candela Peña (left) and Micaela Nevárez in Princesas

I really enjoyed this film. I didn’t know too much beforehand, but I was immediately drawn into the world of the central character, Caye. The film works simply as a character study of a lonely woman and the friendship she makes with another prostitute, from the Dominican Republic. At times it might be a thriller, a (family) melodrama or a romance, yet none of the potential genre narratives are carried through. Instead, we are given the chance to engage with a character who is naive at best, sometimes pathetic, but also resourceful and open to new ideas and relationships. As I watched the film, I thought again how easy it is to ‘see’ film acting only when it is a highly visible construction of an unusual character. Candela Peña’s performance as Caye is as skilful in bringing to life a ‘ordinary’ character as any barnstorming performance that wins an Oscar. Fortunately, Spanish critics recognised Peña’s achievement and she won several awards at home.

My main query is to why it took two years for this excellent film to get UK distribution. I missed the previous release by director Fernando León de Aranoa, Mondays in the Sun with Javier Bardem and now I’m keen to catch up with it.

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