Torremolinos 73

Director: Pablo Berger

(2003. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 93 mins.)

The deserving winner of a slew of awards at last year’s Malaga festival of Spanish cinema, Torremolinos 73 is a triumph for first-time writer-director Pablo Berger. Based on real events, this quirky yet tender retro comedy tells of an unsuccessful encyclopaedia salesman who moves into the lucrative porn filmmaking business. At first Alfredo (Javier Camara from Almodovar’s Talk to Her) and his dowdy wife Carmen (Candela Peña) reluctantly agree to appear in an ‘educational’ sex film whose release will be restricted to Scandinavia. The money, together with being recognised by a Swedish porn buff in a supermarket, represent a kind of success for the couple, but they find themselves drifting apart. Carmen is desperate to have a child, but Alfredo has caught the filmmaking bug and writes a script which he intends to direct himself in the style of his hero, Ingmar Bergman. Berger has great fun recreating the looks and sounds of the’70s, particularly in the hilarious montage in which Alfredo and Carmen are observed copulating frantically over all manner of awful period interiors. Torremolinos 73 is clever as well as funny, with the clearly gifted Berger managing to tread a fine line between the comic and the serious.

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