Miami International Film Festival

The Other Side of the Bed, Directed by Emilio Martínez Lázaro; Spain, 2002
Balseros Directed by Carlos Bosch and Josep Maria Domenech; Spain, 2002
Kamchatka, Directed by Marcelo Piñeyro; Argentina, 2002

Kamchatka could be seen as an allegory of the tragic period of the "dirty war" that it's set in, as it leaves so many questions unanswered. Still, with more substantial context, this beautifully acted film would have been a more powerful portrait of its time. -- Judy CantorThose looking for a flyweight romp may come away happy from this Spanish sex farce, but those seeking more-substantial fare will have to find it elsewhere in the festival's lineup. Like a bazillion other Spanish films before it, Other Side has to do with young beautiful yuppies who are having relationship problems. Paola (Natalia Verbeke), a knockout blond, calls it quits with her rumpled, curly-haired live-in lover, Pedro (Guillermo Toledo), telling him she's in love with another man. Pedro seeks solace from his best friend, Javier (Ernesto Alterio), and Javier's squeeze, Sonia (the ubiquitous Paz Vega), a knockout brunette. Soon, of course, it's revealed that Paola's new flame is Javier. And there's more, including a Pedro-Sonia setup, a would-be lesbian lover for Sonia, and an incredibly boring chick who fixates on Pedro.

Seen any of this before? Sure, you have. There are mighty few plot twists here that don't turn out exactly the way you might expect. David Serrano's script is a commercial construct with tried-and-true elements -- a farcical story line, bright colorful settings, and sexy young women who are forever peeling off their clothes with glee. Certainly the energetic cast is the film's strongest element. There's a welcome sense of playfulness throughout the picture -- these actors look as if they are having a lot of fun.

The Other Side of the Bed
The Other Side of the Bed

One giant misstep: Musical numbers that feature various characters singing against a backdrop of energetic but derivative jazz choreography, looking like refried Fosse. The bouncy tunes add some energy, but director Emilio Martínez Lázaro fails to capitalize on the potential. From the look of his camerawork, he not only seems to have missed Moulin Rouge but he hasn't even discovered Singin' in the Rain. -- Ronald Mangravite

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