Love Is Not What It Used to Be


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Love Is Not What It Used To Be
"Sweet-natured and sometimes charming."

One city, three couples. Albert and Irene have met again after many years apart. Paz and Jorge are on the verge of giving up on their struggling relationship. Álex and Lucía have just got together after literally colliding, but can it last?

Loosely connected by the three male characters' work at an eye hospital, these contrasting portraits of modern love are also related to mathematical formulae describing the relationships between lines. They weave around each other like the lines in a spirograph, not affecting each other but nevertheless working together to create a pattern. Like a spirograph, the result is pretty, elegant, involving, and doesn't have very much to say.

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Of the tryptych, the older couple's relationship is the most interesting, with both Carlos Álvarez-Nóvoa and Petra Martínez delivering strong performances and their characters reflecting on the way courtship customs have evolved over time. Albert is also struggling with retirement and the issue of what comes next, and it's difficult for him to redefine himself at the same time as looking to the past, but Irene is excited by the idea of a new and different future. Curiously, their different directions seem to bring them closer together.

The weak link is that of the middle aged couple, whose tepid ennui makes them struggle to engage the audience just as they struggle to desire one another. We don't see enough of the connection between them to understand why it should matter for them to be together, and bleak ironies to be found in friends missing what's going on don't generate enough tension to keep it interesting. It feels underdeveloped, just there to link the other two tales.

Whilst the younger couple's relationship suffers from being the most conventional, it benefits from a well drawn female character and a fierce performance by Aida Folch, her Lucía giving the film a bite that it badly needs. Balancing the older couple's story, this tale draws out the age old difficulties that still beset young lovers today.

Overall, this is a sweet-natured and sometimes charming film which those in a romantic frame of mind may well enjoy but which is unlikely to linger in the memory.

Reviewed on: 10 Feb 2014
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Couples at different stages of their relationships experience the different forms and directions love can take.

Director: Gabriel Ochoa

Writer: Ada Hernández, Gabriel Ochoa, Rafael Cobos

Starring: Alberto San Juan, Aida Folch, Petra Martínez

Year: 2013

Runtime: 89 minutes

Country: Spain


Glasgow 2014

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