Vicente Aranda's MAD LOVE (JUANA LA LOCA) is based on an intriguing bit of
fifteenth century Castilian history of which most Americans will be completely
oblivious. As the movie opens, Princess Joan of Castile (Pilar López de Ayala)
is off to marry Prince Philip of Austria (Daniele Liotti), a man whom she has
never met. It turns out that they don't call him Philip the Handsome for
nothing. With flowing hair, buff body and tan skin, he looks like his basement
must be equipped with a hair salon, an exercise machine and a sun lamp. In
fact, he would be the perfect cover boy for a bodice-ripper romance novel.
Because of his excessive good looks, it is easy to see Joan's fatal attraction
to him. After they make a HIGH NOON type of entrance toward each other in his
palace, he tells the priest to marry them immediately so that he can bed her
post haste. Her only complaint afterwards is that she wants repeat performances
from her new husband/lover. Her obsession for him and for sex eventually proves
to be her downfall.
The movie keeps looking like it will lapse into soft core porn but never does.
The sex is more discussed than shown although there is some erotic nudity to
titillate. Princess Joan becomes orgasmic even when breast feeding. Not long
after their marriage, her mother dies so she goes back to rule as the Queen of
The Spanish title for the movie can be translated as JOAN THE MAD. What first
pushes her over the edge is a single discovery of her husband's infidelity.
After that, she becomes obsessed with discovering his indiscretions. Her people
and her kingdom are of no concern to her. She lives to expose her husband's
lovers and to bring him back to her. One of her techniques is to choose only
ugly women to be her ladies-in-waiting in order to minimize temptation.
You've got to admire her. She is so tough that she delivers one of her many
babies by herself and bites through the umbilical cord afterwards. And you've
got to respect a movie that makes a costume drama that concentrates on the
characters rather than the gowns and the sets. I'm still not quite sure how to
take this historical drama with a sexual twist, but I liked it. Obscure history
can be pretty fascinating.
MAD LOVE runs 1:55. The film is in Spanish with English subtitles. It is rated
R for "sexuality/nudity" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes