Talk to Her (2002)

Talk to Her Movie Review

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Talk to Her Movie Review

Talk to Her is a 2002 Spanish drama film directed by Pedro Almodovar. It is such an authentic, one of a kind experience.

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Nothing is simple.

I’m a ballet mistress, and nothing is simple

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Talk to Her Movie Review

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The film concerns two stories of two men who are in a hospital with their girlfriends who are in a coma. Eventually, these two stories intersect and the two men develop a very interesting friendship with one another. Surely this storyline is very original and unlike anything I’ve seen before. It gets a lot of the mileage from its originality, but it is superbly crafted as well.

This is the kind of flashback structure I like, the one employed in this film. It is very elegant and it benefits from excellent editing that I ended up loving it. Because we did not know much about either of its characters before the tragedies strike, the flashbacks were essential this time around and the level to detail exhibited in them and in the entire film is respectable.

Beningo is a very odd person and the film walks the fine line between portraying him as a sweetheart or as a sick person. I will talk more about the morally ambiguous complexities later, but he definitely is the definition of an ambiguous character and he is done right as he is so well portrayed by Javier Camara and he definitely ended up being the most memorable aspect of the film.

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Talk to Her Movie Review

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I really liked Marco Zuluaga. He is such a likable, charming man and I definitely connected with him the most personally. And Dario Grandinetti gave a phenomenal performance. The relationship that develops between these two has a touch of bromance in it, but it is mostly such a wonderfully offbeat friendship that stems from odd circumstances but still ended up being strong and tragic. Both Lydia and Alicia are less developed, but still having in mind that they are in a coma, they ended up being well realized mostly thanks to those deft flashbacks.

So Talk to Her is a very weird film that is also highly intellectual and emotional. It manages to have the right mix of strong emotion and themes and thus it is both smart and moving, two qualities most important to me. It is thematically and emotionally very rich and complex and its complexities make it such a unique, incredible cinematic achievement.

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Talk to Her Movie Review

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It is a film that showcases the moral dilemmas of this situation. It left the “rape” of Alicia ambiguous even though Beningo probably did it. And this act is portrayed as it could be romantic, but also criminal. His entire character walks that fine line between a sick person and a romantic and the film cleverly portrayed both sides as some scenes were definitely highly moving, but some definitely hinted that his obsession with Alicia might not be very healthy at all.

It portrays how different men and women are and how complex their relationships can be, but it also portrays straight men in a very different light – as emotional, caring and vulnerable. Beningo is a romantic and a very caring, meticulous person whereas Marco is a highly emotional man as evidenced by his many outbursts of crying with which I personally connected as I can be quite emotional too. Almodovar gave us a movie about men for once, straight men, and he succeeded thoroughly.

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Talk to Her Movie Review

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This surely is one of his best films along with ‘All About My Mother’. It isn’t perfect, however, as it has its flaws such as that silent film sequence which was interesting, but just too bizarre to fathom for me personally. I get it, but I did not love it. And I thought it is a drama, not a comedy. But his direction is very strong, the performances are great and the film is very well shot, mostly well edited and superbly scored with such a beautiful score that really moved me.

With excellent performances, highly confident direction from Almodovar and a one of a kind script, Talk to Her truly is a terrific film which is thought-provoking thematically, highly affecting emotionally and all around such an original, complex film. It is not perfect (the silent movie scene was honestly too bizarre for me), but its editing is very good, the flashback structure is deftly employed and the music is simply beautiful and it moved me quite a bit. Emotionally and morally rich and complex, Talk to Her is an incredible cinematic experience.

My Rating – 4.5

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Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

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Pan’s Labyrinth Movie Review

Pan’s Labyrinth is a 2006 fantasy film directed by Guillermo del Toro. It is one of the best films of all time and one of my personal favorites.

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But captain, to obey – just like that –

for obedience’s sake… without questioning…

That’s something only people like you do

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Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

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The story is brilliantly crafted and the shift from war/historical drama to dark fantasy is always conveyed smoothly and in a slick fashion. That’s why the film is great as both a war drama and a fantasy and it really wouldn’t be as phenomenal had it relied on just one of those genres. It is the ultimate Spanish Civil War movie as it captures the brutality of its soldiers and all of the shootouts so well while giving us an unforgettable villain in the process, but more on him later.

Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark fantasy, a very dark one indeed which means that it isn’t really suited for kids and only adults should watch it. It is the finest adult fairy tale ever conceived and one of the all-time best in the fantasy department. What I loved about it is its attention to detail in the modern recreation of a fairy tale.

The tasks obviously come from all those classic fairy tales, but the brutality and the grotesqueness of its creatures is particularly great as it also is faithful to the mature tone of all those fairy tales and is in line with del Toro’s vision. The look of the creatures and the use of insects here are his trademarks. So the film is phenomenal for the fact that it feels like an adaptation of an ancient fairy tale, but is in fact an entirely original work which just goes to show how talented and creative this man really is as he also wrote the script for the movie.

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Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

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Ofelia is such a great protagonist. She is your archetypal fairy tale hero, but always competent and brave. Her sacrifice in the end was touching and her plight in the entire film is hard to watch. I loved Mercedes. She is a kick-ass female character and the only one who genuinely managed to stop and hurt Vidal and thus she is the bravest person here. All of her scenes were filled with intensity and simply brilliant.

The Faun is very well imagined and I loved his uniquely grotesque and different design. The Pale Man is even more memorable as this child-eating monster with eyes on his hands. His design is absolutely fantastic and so authentic. I also loved those fairies and the scene where the two were eaten was devastating. And of course that giant toad was a short, yet memorable presence.

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Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

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And now we come to Captain Vidal. What is there yet to say besides that he is one of the greats. He is a calculated and brutal villain, but never quite becoming a cartoon villain as he was realistic to me and I could see that he could have been a real figure. There were people like him, dictators, and thus the movie is all the more hard-hitting. His presence is felt in every scene, he is creepy and powerful and he never made a mistake which I also loved. He is one of my favorite villains ever and one of the biggest reasons why this film is such a classic.

The acting is of course magnificent. Ivana Baquero did such a terrific job in the main role and for a child, she was absolutely superb and she sold her every scene. Maribel Verdu is also competent and she did a great job in such an admirable female role. The voices of the creatures and monsters were all terrific as was the narration. And of course Sergi Lopez was amazing in the villain’s role and he brought him to life in such a grand style with excellent facial and voice work.

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Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

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Pan’s Labyrinth is visually dazzling. It is a dark film, but here that approach was warranted given the tone and still it could be well seen. The cinematography is absolutely terrific with some of the camera movements bringing a lot of intensity to the scenes. Of course the shaving scene is so well filmed with that clock approach, but I liked every one of its brutal scenes as they were so well filmed and they knew when to show us the whole thing and when not to show us.

The film is brutal and sometimes too painful to watch, but only in a couple of its scenes and even though I dislike violence, here it was crucial for the plot and especially its villain and thus I didn’t mind it. Some of the imagery here concerning the fantasy elements was fantastic and I loved that bright ending. I also loved the use of the forest and the house, both looked great.

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Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

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Of course the effects are excellent. As I said above, the creatures look very original in their grim and somewhat creepy designs and all are brought to life so well and they meshed superbly with the screen actress. The film’s editing is just brilliant and so tight that every scene here lasted for just the right time and nothing at all was either rushed or prolonged. That is why the movie is consistently involving from beginning to end.

Pan’s Labyrinth features an unforgettable score which I never forgot from the moment I heard it. The whole film has great sound effects and great score, but Pan’s Labyrinth Lullaby is just such a gorgeous theme which really stuck with me long after seeing the film for the first time. It gives power to all of the scenes that use it, especially the emotionally rewarding ending and its melancholic and beautiful tone just gets me every time.

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Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

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My favorite scenes are the ending, the labyrinth chase, the demise of the villain, the Pale Monster and Mercedes hurting Vidal. The film’s tone is dark and mature, but there is light in its ending which was necessary to break all that brutality and darkness. The direction from Guillermo del Toro is just brilliant and this is his magnum opus and better than any other movie he’s made by a mile. The film is memorable and original with such a great dialogue and story and it’s also so emotional and simply powerful in every way. It is my favorite movie from the 2000s and an undisputed classic.

With superb visuals and authentic creature designs, such a great score with an unforgettable melancholic theme, excellent performances across the board and many instantly memorable sequences, Pan’s Labyrinth is Guillermo del Toro’s magnum opus which features a fantastic and very dark original story and one of the best film villains ever in Captain Vidal. Whether as a drama or as a fantasy, the film is consistently engaging and superbly crafted in every way. It is simply an immaculate achievement and one of the greatest films of all time.

My Rating – 5

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Julieta (2016)

Julieta Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta is a 2016 Spanish drama film directed by Pedro Almodovar and starring Emma Suarez and Adriana Ugarte. It is such an uninspired, boring movie.

A chance encounter causes a woman to reflect on the tragic circumstances surrounding the disappearance of her daughter. That is the plot here. It is dull. It is lifeless. It is typical. There is nothing more to say about it.

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Juieta Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

True, the film looks good and is very well acted by both Emma Suarez and Adriana Ugarte, but it is such a forgettable, deeply flawed and uninspired movie that just never got my interest at all. I was bored immensely by it and I never found anything of substance or truly original in it.

And that is the problem with Pedro Almodovar. He often repeats himself through his work. This one has a familiar plot and familiar characters for him and I just do not understand why he even bothered making it in the first place. His style here is even subdued and he never managed to lift this movie to any heights, if you of course do not count the visuals which are pretty good and the attention to detail is solid.

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Julieta Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

Julieta is also overlong. Yes, its running time is only an hour and a half, but the story is so simple and the pacing is immensely slow that it seemed much longer, at least it did to me. None of it ever made me engaged, absolutely none of its plot points. And the structure of the movie is highly typical and I have to say that the film even looked pretentious and awfully artsy at times. In the end, Julieta isn’t awful, but it is so slight, so typical and so forgettable that it is not worth watching at all.

Julieta looks good and is well acted, but the plot is so simple and uninspired, the movie is incredibly slow and boring, the structure is typical and the overall movie is way too forgettable and just so dull that I was never engaged by it whatsoever.

My Rating – 2.5

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The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

The Spirit of the Beehive Movie Review…………………………………………………………………

The Spirit of the Beehive Movie Review

The Spirit of the Beehive is a 1973 Spanish drama film directed by Victor Erice and starring Ana Torrent. It is a solid and sometimes wonderful, yet ultimately very disappointing film.

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It’s me, Ana… It’s me, Ana…

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The Spirit of the Beehive Movie Review…………………………………………………………………

It follows a young girl from rural Spain and her fascination with the 1931 film ‘Frankenstein’. As a big fan of that classic movie, I appreciated every sequence surrounding it and every theme that is woven throughout that resembles the actual movie. I loved its first act as everything about it was absolutely beautiful. Watching the children get fascinated by a film as they’d never seen one before was both heartwarming and sad. I also loved Ana’s naivety and how she actually thought the characters were real at first. The scene in which her sister explains her that it’s all fake is undoubtedly the highlight of the entire picture.

However, the movie worsens in its second act and stumbles in the third act. Whenever the film moved away from this horror classic, it suddenly felt boring and entirely uninvolving. Yes, the entire film is very slow, but its second half is particularly sleep-inducing. I found the film’s artistic sensibility sometimes quite evident and strong, but more often than not, it was done in a pretentiously slow and typical manner.

The film is well directed by Victor Erice and Ana Torrent is especially memorable. She is not only beautiful, but also such a sweet and somewhat of an enigmatic child. She carries this movie entirely on her shoulders and whenever it focused on other characters, the film suffered as a result because I just wasn’t invested in the parents’ storylines at all. I get that they should be moving, but because they weren’t well utilized, they ended up being abrupt and flawed.

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The Spirit of the Beehive Movie Review…………………………………………………………………

The Spirit of the Beehive is beautiful to look at and the rural imagery at display here is simply gorgeous and sometimes the tone is quite dreamlike and wonderful. I really liked the imagery of the last scenes and although I found the actual plot points to be lacking, they at least looked great. But the film is just never as emotional as it should have been and it is never as great as I thought it would have been given its intriguing premise.

The Spirit of the Beehive has gorgeous scenery, a sweet central character, an intriguing premise and such a great first act with some really heartwarming moments, but everything that came afterwards was either dull or disappointing and the movie is way too slow to be enjoyed more.

My Rating – 3.5

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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown ……………………………………………………………………………

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Movie Review

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is a 1988 Spanish comedy drama film directed by Pedro Almodovar and starring Carmen Maura and Antonio Banderas. It is such a mediocre, ridiculous movie.

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For two days everyone has been saying no to me.

Now it’s my turn to say no

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I really did not like this movie. I usually like the works of this director, but this being one of Almodovar’s first films, it is so disappointing and weak. The plot here is silly to put it mildly. I felt as if I was watching a soap opera instead of a respected movie because its plot is so ridiculous and so soapy that it really was difficult to watch.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is filled with many characters and all of them are somehow connected in such a stupid way. Not one of them was at least mildly interesting. Pepa is okay as the protagonist and Carmen Maura is the highlight here as she gave a good performance, but every other actor is forgettable as are their characters in my honest opinion.

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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………

This film is a black comedy and I guess I can see why someone would like it and would find it funny, but this was totally humorless to me as I never even smiled, let alone laughed. Those endless impossible to happen in real life scenarios were just too over-the-top and ridiculous to me, but in a negative way. Yes, I can see some of the moments being entertaining to some, but this was for the majority of time not only unfunny, but also incredibly annoying to watch.

Another problem here is its first act as it just starts off in such an annoying way with that TV show and unfortunately only goes worse from there as it never introduces you to its characters properly and it just becomes too difficult to follow and never welcoming at all. I was so frustrated watching this film and especially that first half.

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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………

The ending is somewhat sweet and memorable and there were a couple of passable moments, but almost every scene here is pretty useless and annoying. The film is awfully edited as it is just so frustratingly frantic that it was really tough to watch. But the script is the major problem to which I return as the cause of this failure. If those endless scenarios were funny or at least entertaining, I would forgive the movie for being silly and over-the-top. But they weren’t like that whatsoever and that is why this is a mediocre affair. In the end, this Spanish “classic” is such an overrated mess and such a big letdown for me.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is such an overrated mess with some decent moments here and there, but for the most part being utterly ridiculous and too over-the-top. It is a big soap opera with all of its ugly qualities and all of its scenarios are not only unfunny, but also annoying and the film is not only awfully frantic, but also quite frustrating to watch.

My Rating – 2.5

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The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

The Devil's Backbone

The Devil’s Backbone Review

The Devil’s Backbone is a 2001 Spanish-Mexican drama horror film directed by Guillermo del Toro and it is one of the director’s most acclaimed works.

It is set in a badly operated orphanage and it follows an orphan boy during the Spanish Civil War. The story itself is very well written and it is such a dramatic movie. It is professionally scripted and it is emotionally resonant. However, my major issue with it is that it is not a horror film. It is just not that. It has a ghost and some horror elements, but it is mostly just a straight drama and I can’t understand how anyone would classify this as a horror film. My second issue with the plot itself is that it lacks focus and with too many characters in here, it doesn’t quite know which one to follow and the whole movie somehow doesn’t know its identity and never establishes it unfortunately.

The characters are well developed. Carlos is such a likable kid and your really root for him. The sequence near the beginning where he is left in the orphanage is just so devastating to witness. And the other kids are all really well depicted with Jaime being the most memorable. Carmen is great and Jacinto is such a menacing creation, but it is Casares who is the standout of the adults and the scene with him and Carmen near the end is such a heartbreaking scene.

The acting is also really good and professional. Eduardo Noriega is quite good and Marisa Paredes is fine as well, but again it is Federico Luppi who shines the most in a difficult role and he is the highlight.

It is a technically polished work, as expected from the director. The cinematography is really good and although the scenery isn’t as memorable as in his other films, it is still quite good. The costumes are good, the acting is great and the direction is superb. It is also a really well paced movie and never boring or too fast. It is also a smart film and really well executed overall with the action being really well done. I wished to see more dialogue in it, but it is visually arresting with some incredibly moving scenes not just emotionally but also in looks. It really is such an emotional movie.

The Devil’s Backbone is never scary and it isn’t particularly atmospheric which was a big problem for me. Not only is it not a horror film as everyone says it is, but those rare horror moments aren’t particularly memorable and the dramatic moments are much better realized. The ghost is an interesting creation and the final sequence with him is terrific, but he was still a lost potential and never properly explored or executed.

But it is a sophisticated and well crafted film that is undoubtedly the director’s best early effort and much better than both ‘Cronos‘ and ‘Mimic‘. It has his signature style and professional approach to it, but it is still miles away from the quality of his future Pan’s Labyrinth, but it is still an evident progress for him.

The Devil’s Backbone is very well acted and directed with fine characters, great visuals, some memorable sequences and evident emotional resonance. It isn’t a horror film and the horror elements aren’t as good as the dramatic ones, but it is still the director’s best early effort and overall a very well crafted movie.

My Rating – 4

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Interior & Exterior Stills from The Devil’s Backbone

[wppa type=”slide” album=”5″ size=”1200″ align=”center”]Any comment[/wppa]

 

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All About My Mother (1999)

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All About My Mother Review

All About My Mother is a 1999 Spanish drama film directed by Pedro Almodovar and it is mostly regarded as his best work.

The film is about Manuella, a nurse who after losing her son goes to Barcelona to seek for his father whom she never told they had a son. The story is wild and very fast-paced, but also always intriguing and entertaining. It is also incredibly well structured and edited with never a dull or rushed moment. I find the fact that some parts are clearly influenced by ‘All About Eve‘, as is the title I believe, fascinating and very welcome as it is a classic, incredible film and he manages to properly pay homage to it. If I have one problem, I would say it is the somewhat soapy nature of the story as it sometimes feels like telenovela, especially for its characters that are all connected in some way which screams soap opera. But it never actually becomes like that fully and it is a minor flaw I have in an outstanding film.

The character development is absolutely phenomenal with each and every character having a clear personality, flaws, soul and also charm. Yes, every character is, apart from being extremely well developed, also very likable and sympathetic. Manuella is strong as the protagonist and it is superb that her grief for her son is poignant and never as melodramatic as it could have been. As for Rosa, she is warm and a very good person and you quickly start to care about her and you feel bad afterwards for all the bad things that are happening to her. Huma is very charming and has a screen presence, but the best thing about her is that she is undeniably influenced by Bette Davis‘ Margo Channing and that is a wonderful touch as it is executed perfectly. I found Nina pretty underdeveloped, she is just a drug addict and the most boring character here, but Agrado is simply fantastic as a funny and sympathetic transsexual. Her lines are hilarious and her personality is wonderful. She is definitely the most endearing and warm character in the entire film. As for Lola, her character has the constant mystery factor as she is mentioned throughout the whole film until she finally appears in the final act and that did not disappoint as her sequence with Manuella is incredibly emotional and powerful.

The film is incredibly rich in themes. You have the theme of femininity wonderfully executed and it is explored what it really means to be a woman. The theme of loss and grief is of course present and well executed. And classic cinema and theater is present as well which was a great touch and it connected the bits and pieces of the movie perfectly. And I have to mention the sheer originality and authenticity of the movie because it truly is a one of a kind piece of work which is also very memorable and sticks with you. As for the acting, it is magnificent across the board with each performance being superb and a standout in and of itself. That definitely helped this movie be such a professional and well-crafted cinematic experience as it is.

The great thing about it is that it is never predictable as well because its story is so mature and well thought-out that it is always intriguing. The dialogue is of course superb as is the direction from Almodovar as he is the one who is responsible for the movie’s feel and ideas. And the tone is deft, mostly serious but with its own light touches of fun and humor.

The problems I found in All About My Mother despite its somewhat soapy nature are sometimes too fast-paced approach and theatre sequences. The movie should have been a bit slower, it is definitely a bit too fast for my taste. The theatre sequences are of course good, but they nevertheless become a bit repetitive near the end. But those are some of the minor flaws which do not take much from the film as it is terrific in all other aspects.

With outstanding character development, excellent direction, deft pacing and a thematically rich, original and always entertaining and involving plot, All About My Mother is a fantastic film which has its minor flaws including a bit too fast paced approach and at times a bit soapy nature, but it is otherwise a terrific movie with its fair share of likable and sympathetic characters, excellent tone ranging from serious to funny, wonderful themes superbly explored, authentic story, great influences and it is all around an engaging, smart and incredibly well acted movie and a standout work from the director.

My Rating – 4,5

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