La Niña de tus ojos (1998) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

La Niña de tus ojos (1998) has some basis in historical fact. During the Spanish Revolution, some Spanish film companies went to Germany to make films. They were under the watchful eye of Joseph Goebbels, who was minister of propaganda. They frequently made two versions of the film, one in German and one in Spanish at the same time.

This film, which translates "The Girl of Your Dreams," is the story of such a troupe, which escapes the war in Spain for a nice peaceful stay in Nazi Germany. From that statement alone, it should be obvious that it is a comedy. The female lead of the film they are making (which is called The Girl of Your Dreams), Penélope Cruz, is sleeping with the director, but attracts the attention of Goebbels, who was a notorious pussy-hound. She is more or less sacrificed by her troupe to him so they can keep making films. The lead actor is regularly servicing the wife of the Spanish ambassador, and the German lead, a tall Arian stud, is gay, and scheming on the lead actor.


Cruz shows breasts in a bath scene and a sex scene, and has cleavage and pokies several times.
Cruz befriends a Russian Jew they bring in as an extra when the Spanish troupe isn't impressed with blonde haired, blue eyed Arians playing Spanish gypsies. "Look at us, we even have black hair on our tongues." Much of the film involves conversations between the two companies, one speaking Spanish, the other German, with a translator, and much of the humor comes from the dialogue. Seldom does the translator dare translate what either group is actually saying.
not available in region 1
Comments at IMDB are sharply divided between non-Spanish speakers who thought it was trite, and Spanish speakers who thought it was absolutely hilarious, but admit that a thorough knowledge of Spanish and some knowledge of Spanish history helps with appreciation of the film. The cinematographic style has the look of the 30's, but is full of impressive Art Nouveau imagery.   
Scoop's comments:

Line me up with the people who thought it was marvelous. It isn't easy to keep your head about you when making a comedy about Joseph Goebbels, but the director did a helluva job at blending farce, romantic comedy, and satire into the uneasy relationship between Fascist regimes.

As Tuna noted, and important part of the humor requires an understanding of how the translator is affecting everyone's perception of every situation, but the movie plays out with lots of comic élan, and it has meticulously invoked a particular style of a particular time.

The thing I admire most about the filmmakers of Spain is that they seem to have the ability to invoke a highly developed aesthetic sensibility without descending either into maudlin sentimentality or pretentious, arty bullshit. The Girl of your Dreams is one of the most consciously stylized films I've ever seen, practically a 1930's stylistic wet dream, yet it uses the art only to support the characters, and never allows the aesthetics to overpower the humanity of the story. American filmmakers seem to have to choose between humanity and art, and their films seem to have one or the other, never both. The most artistic films of America seem to renounce life, not celebrate it. They could learn a lot from this film, and from director Fernando Trueba.

I'm not at all surprised by all the awards it won. I enjoyed it a lot.

The Critics Vote

  • It won 9 awards, including Goyas for best picture and Best Actress (Cruz), and had 14 other nominations

  • no English reviews online.

The People Vote ...

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B-.  (Scoop says - I agree with that score, I guess. Maybe C+. If you don't like subtitled movies, I suppose this is not the one to win you over, but it's a helluva good comedy with an inspiring Casablanca-style story working beneath it.)

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