By Jeff Walsh
As Spain is about to wed its first gay couples ever, five women have to confront their pasts, presents, and prejudices before seeing their sons marry in "Queens," a glorious Almodovaresque film from Manuel Gomez Pereira. This Spanish film (with English subtitles) may be about gay sons getting married, but the headstrong matriarchs steal the show.
One mother has to confront the fact that her son is marrying the son of their gardener, who she's never even let set foot in their house for decades. Another comes a little too well packed from Buenos Aires, with her dog and no real plan to go home anytime soon. One is sexually compulsive in awkward situations and finds herself alone with her future son-in-law. One runs the hotel where all the gays are coming for the reception, but the chef (with whom she's having an affair) decides the whole kitchen is going on strike right before the reception. And, well, you get the idea...
It is just a delightful farce that really puts politics on the back burner. The parents aren't all entirely supportive, but they're trying. And, despite the huge, interlocking cast, it's a testament to the writing, directing, and cast that it's so easy to keep all the women and their stories separate.
The most obvious reference with the Spanish setting and the strong women is Almodovar, who is even name-checked in the film (one of the women is an actress who claims to have worked with him). While this is a glorious film, Almodovar remains the master of this genre (if it ranks as its own genre?).
I'm as guilty as the next person (in my fictitious, judgmental world) about watching an inferior English movie because I don't want to read the subtitles. Every time I watch an amazing foreign movie, I tell myself how ridiculous that notion is, and this movie was no different.
"Queens" is pure, comic fun. I can't think of a better way to spend a rainy evening than snuggled up with some strong women, their gay sons and future son-in-laws, and enough pathos and misunderstanding to fill up a DVD. Check it out.