I have read a few reviews of this film that draw strong comparisons with John Madden's "Shakespeare in Love", which is not surprising given the films very similar content. In this film the bard with the silver tongue is Felix Arturo Lope de Vega y Carpio, or Lope for short, who seems to be almost as revered in Spain as our own bard is in this country. A contemporary of Cervantes who wrote one of my very favourite books "Don Quixote", he was a prolific writer over a 56 year period during the late 1500s and early 1600s. Lope, like many of the gifted poets, lead an extremely colourful life which transfers nicely to film, thank you very much guvnor! In the film Lope, played by the handsome Argentinian actor Alberto Ammann, returns home penniless from war in the Azores. He soon discovers a love of the theatre and finds he has a natural gift for poetry. This talent has a very pleasing 'Lynx effect', and Lope does not need to engage in anything so vulgar as bodice ripping, as the ladies are quite happy to throw them off willingly. This leads to a few little problems with fathers and rivals for the hands of fair maidens. Oh dear, what would Don Quixote have done in such a pickle?
As the previous reviewer has pointed out, the all action DVD cover holds the promise of lots of decent action. Not for the first time this proves to be a false dawn. This film is a very decent period love story, and aside from a couple of sword duels the action comes a very poor second. No matter though, it is a good enough film! The costumes and attention to period detail are top notch, and it is clear the production values were not heavily rationed. The acting is of a high standard, with the attractive Spanish actresses Leonor Watling and Pilar Lopex de Ayala giving Ammann good support. Lope is a character that both men and women can relate to. He can charm the birds off the trees with honeyed words, and wield a sword with equal dexterity. He can also be a bit impetuous but wears his heart on his sleeve. Although he has roguish tendencies, it is hard not to like him. As a result the film itself is easy to watch, and proves to be a highly entertaining affair up to its very satisfying conclusion.
This is the first feature film by Brazilian director Andrucha Waddington, since "House of Sand" in 2005, and he proves to be a deft hand with period drama. This is the third Spanish historical film I have reviewed in recent weeks, and the Spanish seem to be rekindling a love affair with their dramatic past. Both "Alatriste; The Spanish Musketeer" and "Legend of the Soldier" were damn good films, and so this one also proves to be. Let's hope they continue the good work and churn out a few more where this one came from. If viewers from this country put aside their dislike of sub titles they will find this to be an even better film than "Shakespeare in Love". Was Lope a greater poet than Shakespeare? No way Jose!