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Mad Love

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Mad Love

Starring: Pilar Lopez, Daniele Liotti
Director: Vincente Aranda
Rated: R
RunTime: 117 Minutes
Release Date: August 2002
Genres: Drama, Romance, Foreign

*Also starring: Rosana Pastor, Giuliano Gemma, Guillermo Toledo, Roberto Alvarez, Manuela Arcuri

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

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 Castile.

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

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