Tristana (1970)

5.0 out of 5

Those au fait with Mario Bava will recognise the streets of Toledo as the location for Lisa and the Devil and here providing the backdrop for a multi award winning and Oscar nominated allegorical tale directed by Luis Buñuel and co-produced by Selenia Cinematografica who brought the world Lucio Fulci's adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat.

Reuniting Buñuel with the ever delightful Catherine Deneuve, the eponymous Tristana, after the equally mesmerizing Belle De Jour the viewer is treated to an ever so surreal film that on some levels, it could be argued, represents all that Boxing Helena aspired to be and far more besides as this operates successfully on many more levels.

Possibly a desire for control at the heart of those who espouse liberty, a pondering on what it means to have free will, a metaphor for the struggle between Popular Frontist government of the Spanish Republic and the Falangist Nationalists or a story of love as obsession. The ambiguity is there and Buñuel leaves the viewer without most of the answers but certainly poses the most intriguing of questions. As with Belle De Jour the point at which dreams end and reality begin is never always clearly delineated and while the film is easy to watch neither questions nor answers are ever going to be simply gifted to the viewer but instead ending the movie at a point where the reflection of the viewer can begin and possibly continue for some time.

Fernando Rey is great as a hedonistic socialist who struggles to live up to the values he espouses and Franco Nero does a turn as the a love interest for the ultimately embittered unidexter Deneuve.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics