Love and freedom


I don't want to talk about it
(No Eso No Se Habla)
Directed by Maria Luisa Bemburg
Written by Maria Luisa Bemburg and Jorge Goldenburg
Starring Marcello Mastroianni and Luisina Brando
Opens at the Dendy, George St, Sydney and Kino Cinema in Melbourne in early February
Reviewed by Pip Hinman and Peter Boyle

Argentinean director Maria Luisa Bemburg has made a beautiful film about love, sacrifice, happiness and freedom. No eso no se habla, which translates literally as "of this one does not speak", tackles a number of complex issues in her sympathetic look at a mother's plight in coming to terms with her daughter's desire for independence.

Leonor (Luisina Brando), a widow, is determined to raise her daughter Charlotte without Charlotte's disability — her short stature — affecting her confidence. Leonor insists that Charlotte be schooled at home and employs music teachers and tutors to do the job. She tells the priest who tentatively suggests that Charlotte's disability should not and cannot be hidden from her, to mind his own business.

Leonor is determined that Charlotte will be protected from the cruelties of the outside world and forces her to live her life in a gilded cage. But as Charlotte's horizons broaden and her curiosity about life grows, the tensions start to develop.

Charlotte's only escape is her imagination — something Ludovico D'Andrea (Marcello Mastroianni) — the wealthy, worldly, ageing but still most eligible bachelor in this small and remote town — is happy to oblige with his tales of exotic, faraway places. Ludovico has spent most of his life in a world most of the townsfolk haven't even glimpsed and has retreated to this town for reasons that remain an intriguing mystery to its folk.

No-one, least of all Leonor, is prepared for Ludovico's declaration of love for Charlotte. Is he punishing himself for some terrible sin previously committed? How can he really be in love? Will they consummate the marriage? These are some of the unspoken questions. But hardly have the townsfolk adjusted to the marriage than the story takes a different turn.

Bemburg's creative use of light to depict emotions and a sort of exotic otherworldliness is very evocative. It is matched by her comfortable deployment of dramatic symbolism. Mastroianni's performance is also superb — the famed "Old World" lover rises well to the challenge.

Bemburg, a committed feminist who was forced to flee Argentina during the 1960s, has dedicated this film "To all people who have the courage to be 'different' in order to be themselves". A fitting epithet to a moving film.