THE CONSUL OF SODOM is a beautifully filmed, historical romance that puts sex at its center. Since it is also a bio-pic of the Spanish poet Jaime Gil de Biedma, who did much the same thing in his own life, this makes perfect sense and produces a damn-near perfect movie. Here we get his-tory, filtered though the life and times of a gifted poet (shown just below in his heyday) who was also one hell of an interesting guy.
Jordi Mollá -- and a number of wonderful ones from the supporting cast.
Sigfrid Monleón (shown at left), the film's director and co-writer/adapter, along with Miguel Dalmau (from his own novel), Miguel Ángel Fernández and Joaquín Górriz. I am unfamiliar with Monleón's other films, but on the basis of this one, I'll see anything else he does or has done. He possesses as keen an eye for spectacle as for intimate moments (both are often sexual: those opening scenes in 1940s Manila!), his pacing is terrific (he moves when speed is needed but grows leisurely when we most want to linger), and he draws out superb performances all-round.
José David Montero, who did the terrific genre film El rey de la montaña a few years back), I have no complaints.
Juli Mira (shown at right). The somewhat fraught father/son relationship is brought to life quite well, as is the writer's place in the left-wing poetry "collective" of the time. The men involved in this appear -- in the film, at least -- to have been able to put aside their sexual differences in order to help each other write and prosper, as shown by Jaime's help to the writer Juan Marsé (played by Alex Brendemühl, below) and by the constant help and support given Jaime by Carlos Barral (a solid Josep Linuesa, shown two photos below). The interplay throughout the film of culture, politics and economics makes the movie all that more engrossing.
Bimba Bosé, below, in her first film role) whom the movie posits as the one great love of his life. When Jaime visits, years later, an early conquest from his Philippines' days, he finds the man with wife and family and seems genuinely pleased for his old flame's good fortune.
Isak Férriz, below) in which he rudely decimates the young man's attempt to learn table manners and wine tasting. Pep later accuses Jaime and his friends of being wealthy and class-conscious -- which of course they are. But they also make up a decent, caring group that has tried to do its best for culture and citizenry.
In the hands (and face, body and mind) of Señor Mollá (below and at bottom), this fine poet and troubled man comes to fecund life. This actor is always good, but he has rarely been given a role as rich as this one, and there can be no higher praise than to say he does it full justice. Despite Gil de Biedma's many faults, we'd have been lucky to have rubbed shoulders (and any other body parts, including brains) with this guy, who was above all kind, witty, literate, talented, great in bed with either sex (providing, as someone makes clear, that he was "in love" with the other person). And maybe -- according to Bel -- a bit of a sexist. And Mr.Monleón has gotten it all: the times, the culture, the politics, the poetry (much of Gil de Biedma's work is quoted in voice-over here)-- in short, the life.
FSLC's Spanish Cinema Now, the film was nominated for five Goya Awards last year, including one for Mollá. As of now, it has not been picked up for U.S. distribution, but it would seem an absolute shoo-in for a distributor such as Strand, Wolfe, TLA (or IFC, at the very least via its VOD program) -- one or all of whom I hope are bidding on it now. TrustMovies cannot imagine that interested audiences will not flock to this wonderful film -- and, he hopes, soon. The Consul of Sodom is of course too rich, racy, and bisexual for the American mainstream. But the full house at the recent SCN screening seemed to show surprising approval. Perhaps arthouse/mainstream audiences might just be able to sit back, suck it in, and then breath out a sigh of happy, surprised relief. Gee: sex of all kinds can be liberating and fun. Dangerous, too.