For starters the audience must be aware of the fact that this is a film that is part of the DOGME 95 Movement, described as follows: ‘the goal of the Dogme collective is to purify film-making by refusing expensive and spectacular special effects, post-production modifications and other gimmicks. The emphasis on purity forces the filmmakers to focus on the actual story and on the actors’ performances. The audience may also be more engaged as they do not have overproduction to alienate them from the narrative, themes, and mood’ – superficial action such as murders, no special lighting and must be in color, film must be shot on location with hand held cameras, director must not be credited, etc. Given these restrictions the story and the action of DIAS DE BODA (‘WEDDING DAYS’) seem much more immediate and the lapses in fluidity of the story can be forgiven – to a point.
The story is a strange on: it is the wedding day of writer Rosendo (Monti Castiñeiras) and Sonia (Comba Campoy) and one confused family this is! Rosendo has been lovers with Sonia’s father Alejandro (Ernesto Chao) whose wife Josefina (Belén Constenla) is aware of her wealthy husband’s extramarital infidelities. Rosendo also has an ex-lover Nacho (Miguel Insua) who shows up at the wedding to create tension. Rosendo’s variegated love life seems to be centered on his need to succeed as one of Spain’s most famous writers and everyone in the wedding party is a means to an end for the conflicted Rosendo. A bit of superstition is added by Rosa (Rosa Alvarez) the lesbian sister of Sonia who reads much of the future in her Tarot cards. A film producer Fernando (Javier Gurruchaga) and his mistress Beatriz (Pilar Saavedra) add to the confusion with their own crusty relationship. As the wedding proceeds the various secrets come into the open and how the families of the couple and the Rosendo and Sonia respond to the confrontations that shape their futures winds the story to a somewhat confusing end.
Juan Pinzás is the writer and ‘director’ of this dysfunctional group and even more dysfunctional wedding and working within the confines of Dogme 95 he manages to come up with some fairly strong statements. The cast is strong enough to carry the ‘conceptual roles’ and there are many moments that are absorbing. This film is no competition with the other Dogme 95 films (‘Festen’, ‘Italian for Beginners’, ‘Mifune’s Last Song’, etc) but it does take some chances with subject matter that do make a difference. Filmed in Galicia with the language of the region, the end product on DVD is dubbed in the more often used form of Spanish and subtitled in English. This quirk detracts from the impact of the drama. Dogme 95 may have supporters but it is doubtful the concept will endure. It is an interesting experiment but takes a lot of concentration form the viewer to lift it from the level of telenovella! Grady Harp