In the Autumn of her life, widowed Pilar (Carmen Maura) finds love with Fernand (André Dussollier) and decides to introduce him to her family including her movie star daughter, Nuria (Emmanuelle Seigner). The planned dinner however, turns into a fiasco when her daughters take a sudden dislike to her new beau and what ought to have been a happy and momentous occasion quickly turns into a family crisis.

A family feud that simmers slowly.

French playwright and novelist Yasmina Reza’s directing debut is a disappointingly slender dramedy stretched thinly over 80 minutes plus closing credits.

Based on her stage play A Spanish Play, Chicas focuses on the dysfunctional extended family of a Spanish woman who migrated to France when her three daughters were young.

The film also serves as a satire of the vanities and insecurities of the acting profession, an easy target.

The talented ensemble cast is ill-served by a low-key, episodic narrative which robs the film of momentum and tension.

Distinguished Spanish actress Carmen Maura plays the matriarch Pilar, a widow who refers to her offspring as 'my three sweethearts." That sentiment is not reciprocated.

At a disastrous Sunday lunch, Pilar introduces Fernand (André Dussollier), her boyfriend of two months, to her daughters Nuria (Emmanuelle Seigner) and Aurélia (Valérie Dréville). Nuria is a successful but lonely movie actress and clearly her mother’s favourite, and is resented by Aurélia, an insecure, neurotic stage actress.

The younger women, who have long mocked their mother’s taste in men, look askance at Fernand as a mere building manager and ridicule their terms of affection for each other.

The third daughter, Christal (Christelle Tual), skips the lunch to be with her lover although she’s married with two young sons, but gets catty messages from her sisters as the day unfolds.

There are several dramatic flare-ups including an angry confrontation between Aurélia and her mother and when Christal tells her lover she thinks she’s pregnant to him, which doesn’t elicit the response she hoped to hear.

But some scenes lead nowhere and there seems little point in filming Aurélia rehearsing her role in an upcoming play at length with her gruff husband Maurice (Bouli Lanners). Except, perhaps, to reinforce the point that Pilar and Fernand are the only truly happy and loving people in this screwed-up family.


1 hour 24 min
Fri, 08/26/2011 - 11