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(2009) (Lluis Homar, Penelope Cruz) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Heavy Moderate Heavy Mild Minor
Heavy Mild None None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Extreme Heavy Heavy Heavy Moderate

Drama: A blind former film director reflects back on a time in his life when he carried on an affair with a beautiful actress and incurred the wrath of her wealthy, older husband.
Mateo Blanco (LLUIS HOMAR) was once a dashing filmmaker who lived life to the fullest. Then, into his life came Lena (PENELOPE CRUZ), a young actress who, in the past, Mateo casts in a movie and promptly accepts financial backing from her wealthy, older husband, Ernesto (JOSE LUIS GOMEZ). Mateo suspects Lena is a kept woman, though, having pledged herself to Ernesto years earlier after he paid to get her gravely ill father the expensive medical care he so desperately needed.

Mateo ends up falling in love with Lena and the two carry on a secret, yet torrid affair while making their film. Eventually, Ernesto finds out. First, he becomes violent with Lena, then he takes steps to ruin Mateo's film. A freak car accident blinds Mateo, causing him to break from reality and begin living as writer and adventurer Harry Caine.

More than a decade later, Mateo/Harry learns of Ernesto's death and receives a fateful visit from the man's seemingly deranged, homosexual son, Ray X (RUBEN OCHANDIANO). These two events prompt him to think long and hard about the events that led to his injury, his self-induced amnesia, and his eventual isolation. He discovers a son, Diego (TAMAR NOVAS), he never knew he had, learns of friend Judit Garcia's (BLANCA PORTILLO) betrayal he never could have imagined, and finally realizes a life neglected he may be able to get back.

Unlikely for the most part. Older, Spanish-speaking teens may have some interest.
For sexual content, language and some drug material.
  • PENELOPE CRUZ plays an aspiring actress who agrees to marry an older, wealthier man if he pays her father's medical bills. She smokes and has an extra-marital affair with a film director.
  • LLUIS HOMAR plays a filmmaker who carries on an extramarital affair with an actress, who he falls in love with. He is eventually blinded in an accident and insists on being called "Harry Caine," a writer and adventurer. He is a casual drinker and a smoker.
  • JOSE LUIS GOMEZ plays a wealthy entrepreneur who has been through many divorces and is now with a beautiful, younger woman who he coerced into marriage. He is very controlling and prone to violent outbursts. He drinks casually.
  • BLANCA PORTILLO plays a movie production manager and former lover of Mateo's, who has for years secretly kept the fact that he is the father of her son. She is a chain smoker and casual drinker.
  • TAMAR NOVAS plays Judit's son who is employed by Mateo as his secretary and assistant. He also works part-time in a dance club where he is routinely tempted to do recreational drugs. He is a casual drinker who briefly succumbs to a drug-laced cocktail.
  • RUBEN OCHANDIANO plays the disturbed homosexual son of millionaire Ernesto Martel, who tries to win favor with his father by performing creepy tasks such as following and videotaping his stepmother.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this Spanish drama with English subtitles that has been rated R. Profanity consists of at least 4 "f" words, with colorful phrases uttered throughout. The film contains three major sex scenes, all of which are obscured either by bed sheets or furniture. But they are no less graphic with their intense grinding and corresponding moans and other sounds. Two women appear topless, and sexually related dialogue is present.

    Violence consists of a fairly intense car crash and one character pushing another character down a flight of steps. Some bloody injuries result, and some of that might be unsettling to some viewers.

    Bad attitudes are prevalent throughout, as is a lot of potentially imitative behavior. Drinking and drug use (and references) are also present, along with a great deal of smoking, while tense family material is also present.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

  • Lena's father takes prescription medication for pain.
  • A friend and coworker at a dance club asks Diego if he wants any "crystal," meaning the drug crystal meth.
  • Ray X says he got his name by "doing too much Ecstasy."
  • What looks like cocaine is shown briefly on a table.
  • Diego is again offered drugs at the dance club. A DJ is actually shown ingesting MDMA, or Ecstasy.
  • Diego accidentally drinks a Coke laced with GHB, a popular rave party drug, and collapses. He is subsequently in a coma for about six hours.
  • Lena films a scene from a movie in which cocaine factors into the plot and dialogue. Pills are briefly seen on a table during one of the scenes being filmed.
  • Ernesto is shown drinking what appears to be whiskey or some liquor alone.
  • Ernesto drinks wine with a meal.
  • A bottle of wine is clearly visible on a kitchen counter as Lena prepares dinner for her and Mateo.
  • A bar scene shows multiple customers either drinking or sitting with a drink. Multiple bottles are visible behind the bar, too.
  • Judit, Mateo, and Diego each are shown drinking alcoholic beverages at a restaurant. She eventually goes to the bar and orders another "gin and tonic."
  • Lena's dying father is said to have vomited up blood. This happens off-screen.
  • Lena vomits after sex with Ernesto.
  • Lena has bloody wounds and bruising to her face, legs and knees after being pushed down steps. We subsequently see X-rays of multiple bone breaks and fractures.
  • Lena's face and elbows are quite bloody after being pushed out of a moving car by Ernesto, an event that happens off-screen.
  • Mateo is shown battered and bandaged in a hospital bed after he is in a car accident.
  • In flashbacks, a teenage Ray has multiple large pimples on his face.
  • Mateo asks for a woman's measurements.
  • Judit tells Mateo that his next script should be for "brats," meaning he should sell out and write a kiddie flick.
  • A doctor discharges Lena's gravely ill father from the hospital because caring for him would interfere with his vacation plans.
  • Mateo refers to a person with Down's Syndrome as being "a mental retard."
  • Ray snaps at Diego for interrupting his conversation with Mateo.
  • It is implied that Lena became Ernesto's wife so he would continue to pay for the best medical care possible for her ailing father.
  • At first, Ernesto doesn't support Lena's acting ambitions. But he eventually agrees to finance a film with her in it so he can continue to exert control over her.
  • Ernesto blames Ray's mother for making his son, Ray, gay to humiliate him.
  • Ernesto proposes that Lena "test" Ray's "gayness." Nothing comes of this, though.
  • Ernesto manipulates Ray into following Lena wherever she goes and filming her every movement.
  • Ray is then shown filming Lena and Mateo on separate occasions throughout the film without their knowledge.
  • Judit twice refers to an on-set hairdresser as a "faggot."
  • Ernesto makes reference to an ex-wife who said Ray may be "a fairy," referring to his homosexuality.
  • Because most of the footage that Ray shoots has Lena out of the range of his camera microphone, Ernesto hires a lip reader to determine what she is saying to various people when he is not around.
  • Lena lies to Mateo (and presumably to others) that she tripped down a flight of steps when in fact Ernesto pushed her.
  • Late in the film, we learn that Ernesto pays Judit and an editor to purposefully ruin Harry and Lena's movie after the older man finds out the two have been having an affair.
  • Out of self-loathing, Judit admits to having "sold herself" (her words) to Ernesto after betraying Mateo.
  • Judit admits to having casual sex with a man in order for her to cook up a false story that she is pregnant with his child and not Mateo's.
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" might be unsettling and/or suspenseful to some viewers.
  • In the background of one scene, a painting hangs on the wall depicting a very large handgun.
  • Ernesto's house has multiple paintings with guns featured prominently.
  • Phrases: "F*cking leave me alone," "Give me the f*cking camera," "F*cking son of a bitch," "This is sh*t," "I'm surprised he screwed so well," "Bastard," "Bastards," "I had that son of a bitch on top of me for hours," "Screw him," "He is a pain in the ass," "His ass," "I pissed myself laughing," "His mom says he is a bit of a fairy," "Spot on, Faggot," "Faggot," "Like hell," "A mental retard" and "Don't be such a pain."
  • Mateo is in denial of his true identity and instead lives as an alter ego, writer and adventurer Harry Caine.
  • Ernesto is said to have been married and divorced multiple times.
  • In need of money, Lena agrees to rejoin an escort service that will almost certainly lead to paid sex with strangers.
  • Ernesto is a client of this escort service and has the madam alert him when Lena becomes active again in the trade.
  • Mateo lies to Diego's mother, hiding the fact that her son was briefly in a drug-induced coma.
  • Mateo and Lena carry on an extra-marital affair.
  • Ray films Lena and Mateo on separate occasions throughout the film without their knowledge.
  • Ernesto drives fast and erratically as he transports a wounded Lena to the hospital.
  • Lena lies to Mateo (and presumably to others) that she tripped down a flight of steps when in fact Ernesto pushed her.
  • Mateo thoughtlessly litters at the beach.
  • Judit admits to having casual sex with a man in order for her to cook up a false story that she is pregnant with his child and not Mateo's.
  • Judit spends years lying to Mateo and Diego, neglecting to tell them that they are father and son.
  • From out of nowhere, an SUV-like vehicle slams into a car Mateo is driving with Lena in the passenger seat.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 4 "f" words, 1 "s" word, 1 slang term for sex ("screwed"), 4 S.O.B.s, 3 asses (1 used with "hole"), 1 hell, and 1 use each of "For God's sake," "Oh God," and "Oh Lord."
  • Mateo seduces a young woman into having sex with him on his couch. He first slips off her tank top to reveal her bare breasts, which he promptly fondles. The two then proceed to make love. The camera rests behind the back of the sofa for the entire sequence, obscuring our view of the sex. But we hear much moaning and numerous cries of pleasure. Briefly, we can also see the top of Mateo's back or possibly his buttocks thrusting in a downward motion. The camera pans down the length of the couch until it comes to focus on the young woman's foot quivering then relaxing.
  • The young woman walks around Mateo's apartment topless after sex. Mateo is shirtless, too.
  • In need of money, Lena agrees to rejoin an escort service that will almost certainly lead to paid sex with strangers.
  • Lena wears a "Flashdance"-style sweater that shows some cleavage.
  • Ernesto has the escort service call him when a specific woman, who he knows is Lena, becomes active again.
  • We are told via dialogue that Ray as a young boy liked to try on his mother's clothes.
  • Mateo is briefly shown in a photo with a woman in a bikini.
  • Ray X and his male lover are shown dressing after off-screen sex.
  • Diego relates an idea he has for a vampire movie to Mateo. Together, the two riff on all sorts of sexually related ideas regarding the vampires, including the fact that the lead vampire gets a "dental reaction" whenever he is horny. The two also laugh that vampires refuse oral sex from each other due to their protruding fangs. Their movie idea begins with a female vampire spreading sun block all over her naked body so she can briefly go out in the daylight.
  • Mateo and Lena embrace and kiss passionately in her dressing room. The scene then cuts to the two of them in bed having vigorous sex under sheets. There are some side views of Lena's bare breasts pressed up against Mateo's naked chest. The grinding is particularly intense.
  • Lena and Ernesto are shown totally covered from head to toe with bed sheets having hard sex. We hear both of them moaning loudly. After climax, Lena pulls down the sheets and shows her bare breasts. Ernesto is not wearing a shirt either.
  • Afterwards, it is revealed that this is the sixth time that day that the two have had sex.
  • Lena gets up from the bed topless and walks into an adjoining bathroom.
  • The foyer of Ernesto's house features a big painting of a naked woman with very large breasts.
  • Ernesto kisses Lena's bruised legs passionately.
  • Numerous people are shown in swimsuits and bikinis at a beach.
  • Lena wears a tank top that shows cleavage.
  • Judit admits to having casual sex with a man in order for her to cook up a false story that she is pregnant with his child and not Mateo's.
  • A scene from the movie Lena is starring in is played multiple times throughout the film. In it, an older woman relates to Lena's character the great sex she recently had with a much younger man she picked up on the street. The woman eventually finds out the man is a criminal, which prompts her to state, "I'm surprised he screwed so well" with such pressure on him.
  • Judit smokes while she is on the phone with Mateo.
  • Mateo is shown in two separate scenes smoking while he is directing his film.
  • Lena smokes after sex with Ernesto.
  • Mateo smokes on several occasions throughout the film while writing/typing.
  • Lena smokes while lounging at the beach.
  • Judit smokes while listening to Mateo leave a message on her answering machine.
  • Ray lights up in one scene.
  • A random customer at a bar is shown smoking.
  • Judit smokes at Mateo's birthday dinner.
  • Lena's father is gravely ill with little money to pay for the expensive care he needs. The man's condition puts a strain on his marriage with Lena's mother and compels her to first rejoin an escort service of which she was once employed, then marry Ernesto for his money.
  • Ernesto accuses one of his ex-wives of turning his son gay solely to embarrass him in the business world.
  • Ray, angry over how his father treated him, approaches Mateo with a screenplay idea centered around a homosexual man who wants to kill his dad.
  • Judit is lied to by both Mateo and Diego regarding the latter's drug-induced coma. She suspects them both of lying, but can't get the truth out of either man.
  • Diego quarrels with his mom on several occasions for her secretive ways.
  • Eventually she confesses to Diego and to Mateo that she and Mateo were once lovers and that he is really his father. This is a surprise to Mateo.
  • Spousal abuse.
  • Marital infidelity.
  • The dangers of rave party drugs such as crystal meth and Ecstasy.
  • Blindness and how it can affect one's mental outlook on life, especially if one has had sight all of his/her life and then loses it.
  • Why someone would hide paternity from both a father and their child.
  • Lena and Ray fight over Ray's camera, with much pushing, shoving and jostling.
  • Lena has bloody wounds and bruising to her face, legs, and knees after Ernesto pushes her down some steps. We subsequently see X-rays of multiple bone breaks and fractures.
  • Lena's face and elbows are quite bloody after being pushed out of a moving car by Ernesto, an even that happens off-screen.
  • From out of nowhere, an SUV-like vehicle slams into a car, killing one of the occupants.
  • The crash is shown from multiple angles later in the film after it is revealed that Ray has been following the doomed couple and filming them secretly.

  • Reviewed December 30, 2009 / Posted January 8, 2010

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