Rosa's Wedding


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Rosa's Wedding
"With beautifully drawn characters and superb performances all round, Icíar Bollaín's enchanting comedy draws viewers into a world where romance is not dependent on a committed relationship and love takes many different forms." | Photo: Natxo Martinez

What do brides look forward to most about their wedding days? Ask around and you'll get a variety of answers. The dress figures prominently; then the ceremony, the reception, the presents, the cutting of the cake, all these things contributing to the sense of it being a special day all about them. The people they're actually marrying come quite low down the list. Perhaps that's why, around 2014, a sudden craze developed in Japan for getting married solo, enjoying all the good bits of a wedding without having to commit to spending one's whole life with somebody.

What happens in Tokyo, however, takes a long time to filter through to Valencia, where traditional expectations of women's lives still hold sway. Amongst those traditions is the notion that an unmarried woman should be at the service of her family. 44-year-old Rosa (Candela Peña) has spent her whole life catering to the needs of her brother Armando (Sergi López), sister Violeta (Nathalie Poza), parents, daughter Lidia (Paula Usero) and twin grandsons. Her mother died two years ago but that only left her with more to do to look after her father (Ramón Barea) and now he wants to move in with her, despite being perfectly well enough to manage on his own. She never seems to have any time to pursue her own dreams, and her boyfriend Rafa (Xavo Giménez), always at work and never available to listen, doesn't seem to present much of a solution. One day she has simply had enough. She declares that she won't be available as usual. She's going to go to a small resort along the coast and get married.

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The nature of this marriage doesn't remain a secret from everyone for long. It creates a measure of scandal, as one might expect, but even as people wonder if she's lot her mind, they start to think, for the first time, about the pressure they might have put her under. Armando has been wholly focused on his collapsing marriage, Violeta on troubles at work, and this is the first time they have really seen Rosa as a person. Explaining her reasons, she also notes the way that family money has been apportioned to people as they have married, whilst she has received nothing. A costume designer for film productions, she wants to open her own shop. Getting married could give her access to the resources she needs to embark - at last - on a fully independent adult life.

With beautifully drawn characters and superb performances all round, Icíar Bollaín's enchanting comedy draws viewers into a world where romance is not dependent on a committed relationship and love takes many different forms. There are unaddressed grievances between Rosa and Lidia which might yet be resolved - in many ways a more important commitment - and by prompting everybody to question what they have taken for granted, Rosa's declaration gives them all to impetus to sort out problems in their lives. This is approached in a grown-up way which involves accepting losses and there are no magical solutions, but with the sun always shining and bright colours everywhere, Bollaín conjures up a sense of magic nonetheless.

Despite its lightness and its upbeat mood, this is a film rich in substance. What starts out seeming like a triviality or an indulgence emerges as a strong feminist statement and the final scenes capture all the joyousness of an ordinary wedding with something else besides. Rosa's Wedding takes a sledgehammer to the notion that female virtue must depend on putting others first. It shouts out wildly that everyone deserves a special day.

Reviewed on: 05 Mar 2021
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Rosa, about to turn 45, realises that she has always lived for others, so she decides to press the nuclear button, shake things up, leave it all and grab hold of the reins of her life.

Director: Icíar Bollaín

Writer: Icíar Bollaín, Alicia Luna

Starring: Candela Peña, Sergi López, Nathalie Poza, Ramón Barea, Paula Usero, Xavo Giménez, Paloma Vidal, Lucín Poveda, María José Hipólito, María Maroto, Eric Francés, Ana Ulloa, José Arnau, Lucía Oca, Esther Ramos

Year: 2020

Runtime: 97 minutes

Country: Spain, France


SSFF 2020
Glasgow 2021

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