Plot via Sundance:
Devoutly religious Cruz leads a routine existence with her husband and precocious granddaughter Viky, while her daughter Carlota chases her dream of becoming a professional dancer in Vienna. A single errant click while attempting to navigate the internet momentarily exposes Cruz to online pornography. She’s mortified but suddenly reminded of her own desires. Initially unsure of where to aim her newly rediscovered sensuality, Cruz fruitlessly looks to her beloved church and befuddled husband for satisfaction before finding solace in a women’s sex therapy group and beginning a tentative journey toward self-love.
After watching Mama Cruz I’m wondering if there are whole congregations of elderly woman who attend church regularly because they get off on the buff body of Jesus. Christian saints are sad and sexy, and there is something auto erotic about flayed open thighs and chests, the half naked male anatomy on display.
The Mama Cruz of the title is so sexually neglected by her husband that she throws herself on the Jesus statuary in her church. She swoons in secret orgasmic delight when another female congregant reads passages from The Song of Solomon from the pulpit. At night, she sighs thinking of caressing Jesus chest hairs, touching his perfect nipples.
The director Patricia Ortega plays it pretty straight. She knows that the audience will find both the comic and sympathetic elements and will understand and forgive like good Christians. This is an ode to grandmothers, female freedom and achieving sexual fulfillment at any age.
Mama Cruz is played by Kits Mánver, (“Cable Girls,” “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”), in a career defining performance. It will be noticed, if the movie gets enough play, come awards time. It’s a part older woman are rarely afforded.
Cruz must endure some of the consequences of her sexual awakening. While the women in her sex therapy group may accept her, those in her congregation will gossip sneer and rumor. The movie explores these two groups and how Cruz finds a version of herself that she can live with and accept.
It’s a physical and emotional transformation. She tries only semi successfully to rekindle the romance by trying out new hairdos and night gowns. Cruz uses her sewing skills to make the member of her therapy group all proper fitting bras. She wears vibrant colors when attending the sex therapy group, muted tones while attending church functions.
Cinematographer Frank Fernandez Pardo goes to great lengths to make the reliquary look sexy, to give everything the proper space, framing and light. And they are sexy through the. camera’s gauzy, soft, up close gaze.
Mama Cruz get a 3.5 out of 5 or a B+.
It’s a slight but enticing gem.
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
FRAN FERNÁNDEZ-PARDO AEC
FÁTIMA DE LOS SANTOS
AMPARO MARTÍNEZ BARCO
LA CLAQUETA PC
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