Eye For Film >> Movies >> All The Women (2013) Film Review
All The Women
Reviewed by: Rebecca Naughten
Set over the course of 24 hours, All the Women follows a fraught day in the life of veterinarian Nacho (Eduard Fernández) whose poor decisions and inability to stop lying finally catch up with him. Exactly what Nacho has - or hasn't - done is beside the point as the central focus of the film is a character study of a man in self-denial, as extrapolated from his relationships with the significant women in his life.
Although episodic in nature - it is an adaptation of a TV series which featured the same cast - the format allows us to view Nacho from different perspectives and, despite the relatively short running time, the accumulation of detail across the individual encounters builds a complex portrait of a man who is difficult to like. Eduard Fernández deserves to be better known outside of Spain because he reliably finds a kernel of truth at the heart of a character and is unafraid to show the uglier sides of human nature. He appears in every scene and manages to communicate as much in his silent smoking of innumerable cigarettes as he does in any of Nacho's verbal self-justifications and manipulations.
But he is matched by the actresses playing the women, each of whom connects to Nacho in a distinct way - his lover (Michelle Jenner), his departing wife (Lucía Quintana), an ex-girlfriend who he turns to for legal advice (María Morales), his mother (Petra Martínez), his sister-in-law (Marta Larralde), and a psychologist (Nathalie Poza) who he hopes will declare him temporarily insane.
Nacho's ability to wound varies with each woman but he always seems to sense their tender spots and has few qualms about going in for the kill. Morales and Larralde are particular stand-outs as Marga and Carmen respectively - the former still bearing the scars of being casually abandoned by the man she was madly in love with years earlier, and the latter fresh meat to Nacho's off-hand cruelties. More than once, Nacho says "I'm not a bad person", but in his treatment of these women - specifically his need to belittle them in order to bolster himself - it is difficult to describe him as a good man.
At the other end of the emotional scale are Nacho's mother - Martínez gets some of the best lines - and Andrea the psychologist, who both view Nacho with a clear-eyed perception and have little inclination to indulge his self-deluding excuses. Nacho approaches those who he thinks he can manipulate into helping him - it's noticeable that he doesn't contact any men in his hour of need - but ultimately each woman sees through his smoke and mirrors. The women individually have comparatively little screen time but they deliver subtle performances of lively women whose complexities and vulnerabilities make them believably human.
It says something about Fernández's natural charisma that we accept these sparky women responding to Nacho's call for help, without it stretching our credulity given his track record in emotional devastation. It is the company he keeps that stops Nacho from being just another feckless weasel - all the women have at some point seen something in him that at least hints at a redeeming quality.
The restricted staging - nearly the whole film takes place inside Nacho's house - in combination with director Mariano Barroso's unobtrusive shooting style perhaps points to the project's small-screen origins. But the style and framing also serve the performances, with the camera kept in close enough quarters to register the subtleties performed as Nacho's self-justifications are stripped away and he is forced to face up to his own poor judgement and take responsibility for his actions.Reviewed on: 15 May 2014