La Reina de España (The Queen of Spain)Berlin Film Festival 2017
2016 seemed to be the year of long-delayed sequels. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 was released some 14 years after the original, with Zoolander 2 coming 15 years after the first film. The critical response to these follow-ups was underwhelming, to put it kindly. It’s not only Hollywood pictures that are affected by the sequel bug, although with European cinema, it might be more of a desire to revisit the characters rather than cynically make a lot of money (although this would be lovely too). The 1998 movie The Girl of Your Dreams was hardly crying out for a sequel, but that is precisely what The Queen of Spain (La Reina de España) is.
Released in Spain in 2016 to a fairly lukewarm response, The Queen of Spain was selected to screen at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival. Penélope Cruz plays the delightfully named Macarena Granada, a Spanish actress who hit it big in Hollywood. She has returned home in the 1950s to shoot a movie, and misadventures and misunderstandings abound. The movie is frustrating in a way, simply in that it has so much potential to work with, most of which goes unrealised. It’s possible for a film to retain a carefree farcical surface while still dealing with heftier subject matter, and this feature only dances around these ideas. Creative output in Spain in the 1950s was heavily controlled under General Franco, and this politicism is addressed, although only barely. It would have been a straightforward and relatively easy way to lend depth to the proceedings, and to create a level of engagement that is lacking.
Penélope Cruz shines as Macarena, and Cary Elwes offers saucy amusement as Gary, Macarena’s American co-star. The production design is suitably sumptuous. The film within the film is an historical epic, after all, and this has been realised with an admirable richness. Everything certainly looks pretty, but with The Queen of Spain what you see is very much what you get.
La Reina de España (The Queen of Spain) does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for La Reina de España (The Queen of Spain) here: