The third and fourth generations of "magical realist" writers and moviemakers may have strayed from the path lit long ago by Borges, Garcia Marquez and Bunuel, but there's still a bizarre metaphor or two lurking out there in the darkness of Latin America.
Witness I Don't Want to Talk About It. Argentinian writer/director Maria Luisa Bemberg describes her film as "a fairy tale," and in its way, it is. There's a romance. And a wedding. In the end, the circus comes to town. Still, how many fairy tales do you know in which an elegant Italian in his seventies falls hopelessly in love with a fifteen-year-old dwarf? Or where a doddering village mayor, having died in the midst of a marriage, is packed in ice until the bride can give away her bouquet?
As you may have surmised, all the characters and events in this beguiling film are tilted toward the dream world, and none of them fulfill our expec-tations. The dwarf's young, widowed mother (Luisina Brando), who's as delusional as Blanche DuBois, refuses to acknowledge that there's anything different about her daughter. The girl (Alejandra Podesta) is, by far, the most sophisticated and independent person in the entire village. The suave Italian stranger (Marcello Mastroianni) finds in her the soul of exotic adventure.
Bemberg, who didn't make her first film until she was 56, says Talk is an allegory in honor of all those who are different--artists, homosexuals, immigrants, racial minorities. It's the kind of film Fellini might have made in his prime, but it's infused with a certain maternal instinct. For its surrealist bent, Bunuel might have been attracted to Julio Llinas's original short story, which is set in the 1930s, but his film might have been sharper and more corrosive than Bemberg's. When Don Ludovico and little Charlotte fall in love, it may be the cause of shocked whispers in the provincial town, but the villagers come around--including the corrupt local priest, the cuckolded town doctor and the residents of the whorehouse. There's a benign but half-loco cast to this "love is blind" tale that grows and grows on the audience: By the end, we see what Don Ludovico and Charlotte see in each other and what they have to lose.