Combustible Celluloid
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With: Daniel GimŽnez Cacho, Claudia Ram’rez, Luis de Icaza, Astrid Hadad, Dobrina Liubomirova, Isabel Benet, Toshir™ Hisaki, Carlos Nakasone, Ricardo Dalmacci, Claudia Fern‡ndez, Luz Mar’a Jerez, Nevil Wilto
Written by: Alfonso Cuar—n, Carlos Cuar—n
Directed by: Alfonso Cuar—n
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
Running Time: 94
Date: 09/20/2006

Sólo con tu pareja (1991)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Sex, Lives and Narrow Escape

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Along with Jane Campion's Sweetie, Criterion has released another early film by a celebrated filmmaker, although Alfonso Cuaron is still at the top of his game, following the highly acclaimed and decorated Y tu mamá también (2002) and the box office bonanza Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). His newest film, Children of Men, is poised for a prestigious awards-season release. His early film, the broad sex farce Sólo con tu pareja (1991), sets a tone for Cuaron's later work including a warm, sensual use of colors and space.

Written with his brother Carlos Cuaron (who also worked on Y tu mama), the story involves a happy-go-lucky ladies man, Tomás Tomás (Daniel Giménez Cacho), who works as an ad writer. (His latest job is to come up with a slogan for canned chilis -- an apt metaphor). Tomas' best friends and neighbors are a doctor and his wife. He seduces the doctor's sexy new nurse, but his lady boss also drops by for the evening. Unable to tell either woman the truth, he runs back and forth between two beds (he's borrowing his neighbor's apartment for the evening). But the catch is that, while passing by a window, he falls in love with the woman in the center apartment, a flight attendant, Clarisa Negrete (Claudia Ramírez).

The rest of the plot is a scramble, while characters with mistaken impressions race around town, pursued by the characters that can set things right. Normally this kind of romp comes across like hammer blows with no rhythm or humor, but Cuaron's friendly touch, and his appreciation for pretty faces, saves the day. The American title is Love in the Time of Hysteria.

Criterion's beautiful DVD -- one that emphasizes the bright colors and shadows -- comes with a making-of documentary, and like Sweetie, a couple of early short films.

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