Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Movies I love: Dona Herlinda and her Son

This 1985 film from Mexico is as delightful now as it must have been then. Director Jaime Humberto Hermosillo presents a comedy of manners raising the lid on sexuality in Latin America, and how a family can resolve things so everyone gets what they want.

Rodolfo is the surgeon son of Dona Herlinda, a wealthy widow, expertly played by Guadalupe del Toro, Rodolfo is having a relationship with Ramon, a music student, but they can never find time to be alone at the cramped house where he lives. Dona Herlinda, who obviously must know what is really going on between her son and Ramon, invites the young man to move to her large house in Guadalajara, but Dona Herlinda also wants Rodolfo to marry and present her with a grand-child. The film is endearing, the characters very much alive, and the many twists and turns on the story make this movie funny and poignant at the same time. Arturo Meza (Ramon), Marco Antonio Trevino (Rodolfo) and Leticia Lupercio (Olga) suit their roles perfectly. Hermosillo seems the only openly gay Mexican director and he is still making movies. I shall have to investigate further ...

Rodolfo, who must cover his true nature, begins to see Olga, a young woman from his same circle. He proposes and marries her, breaking Ramon's heart in the process. Dona Herlinda, who is more intelligent than she is given credit for, pulls strings to keep Ramon at her home and decides to expand the house so that Rodolfo and Olga can move in with the grandson and live together happily ever after. Olga wants to study and travel so the arrangement suits her, and the boys can be together too.

Of course, the film is in simple terms a fun story, but deep inside it touches a lot of themes that have been taboo in so many societies. Usually mothers aren't as accepting as this Dona Herlinda, who acts as a procurer for the son she loves by inviting the young lover, Ramon, to come live with her. One deeply amusing scene has Dona Herlinda and Ramon together at a music event, while Rodolfo and Olga are away on honeymoon. Ramon is affected by the music and begins to cry, as Dona Herlinda without a word passes him a hankie. It ends with the expanded family all together as the son toasts his wonderful mother, who smiles serenely back at us.

Hermosillo seems a very interesting director, I should see other of his films, I caught one on television once, another gay related story, starring Fassbinder's muse Hanna Schygulla. His movie reminds me a lot of Almodovar of whom more later.

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