Other Side of the Bed, The

Director: Martinez Lazaro

(Spain| 2002. English subtitles. Colour. Anamorphic. Dolby digital stereo. 114 mins.)

This freewheeling ensemble comedy has been a massive hit back home in Spain; and it’s certainly a crowd pleaser. It centres on two couples who are all good friends—Javier and Sonia (Ernesto Alterio and Paz Vega) are happily together, while Pedro and Paula (Guillermo Toledo and Natalia Verbeke) have just split up after Paula announced she’s found someone new. Pedro turns to Javier and Sonia for support . . . but Paula’s someone new is Javier, and he simply can’t get up the nerve to tell Sonia. As the film progresses, it gets even more complicated as liaisons shift and several other friends, as well as a hilarious private eye (Ramon Barea), are drawn into the fray.
Not only is the film brightly funny and lively, but it’s also a surprisingly serious examination of modern relationships in chaos. Oh, and did I mention that it’s also a musical? Indeed, the characters have a tendency to break into song—full-on pop numbers complete with choreography and backing dancers. But even these moments seem surprisingly organic, as they spring from the scenes naturally, giving insight into the characters and maintaining the film’s breezy tone. Director Martinez Lazaro and writer David Serrano adeptly use humour to mask the edgy material. All of the characters are lying to each other and themselves, and the film grapples with themes of machismo, sexuality and feminism as well. Nobody is innocent here, but they all seem to know it and this is what allows them to move forward. The cast is superb; first-rate Spanish actors creating real characters and showing sharp comic timing.

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