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MAD LOVE

Review by Chastity Campbell

Stars: Roberto Alvarez, Manuela Arcuri, Eloy Azorin, Giuliano Gemma, Daniele Liotti, Pilar Lopez De Ayala, Rosana Pastor, Susy Sanchez, Guillermo Toledo
Director: Vicente Aranda
Audio: Castilian Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Columbia/Tri-Star
Features: See Review
Length: 118 Minutes
Release Date: January 21, 2003

ďMy mother is dead, my husband is unfaithful!Ē

Film ***

This is the first time Iíve had the pleasure of reviewing a subtitled movie.  I try to approach all movie reviews from a new and fresh angle, and this DVD gave me plenty of options. 

Subtitled films live in a black and white reality.  You either love them or you hate them; there really is no in between for this genre.  Now, having stated that, I can proudly say Iím among those who love them, and Mad Love is a beautiful example of how to impress your audience.  

Set during the Renaissance period, our story begins as Joan, the Princess of Spain and Philip, son and heir to the Hapsburg Dynasty, are married in order to form an alliance between the two ruling parties.   Joan is leaving all that she has ever known behind in order to do her duty for God and Country.  Phillip takes one look at her and begs the priest in waiting to bless their union so he can carry her off and make love to her.  Truth be told, heís supposed to wait a week for the chosen priest to arrive from Brussels, but I supposed when youíre that powerful and in lust (I mean love), you can pretty much do what you please! 

Once the marriage is signed, sealed, and consummated, Joan finds herself completely lost in the tide of love and lust her new husband has created for her.   Things are wonderful for the newlywed couple and they soon find a child is on the way.   The first child is born and Philip seems to be a supportive and caring husband.  However, as with all things in life, sometimes people are just not what they seem to be!    

Lifeís road will not be kind to Joan as she bears many children for a man who only loves a memory of the woman she once was.  Philips road will be just as treacherous as he puts his own lusts above the loving family life he could have had.

Director Vincente Aranda, well known for charging into political drama and intrigue with his choices in films, takes no prisoners in this spellbinding, sensual drama.   From beginning to end the watcher is inundated with one plot twist after another.   He makes you fall in love with the character of Philip, and two heartbeats later you want to tear his head from his shoulders for the pain heís causing poor Joan.   You will watch and wonder if Joan is truly mad as the Parliamentary officials claim, or is she just enraged and blinded by the jealousy she feels toward all the other women who share her husbandís bed.  

This film has a lot going on, and you might find it hard to keep up at first, but once you get into the swing of things, youíll have no trouble letting reality fade and the movie experience kick in.  

Video ***

Presented in a very crisp and clean 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen format, this movie is creatively bold with the subdued color choices director Vincente Aranda used to show us a very believable Spain in the early 1500s.   There were no visual flaws that I could see; only a slight glare in the scenes shot outside.   However to be fair, most of the outdoor scenes were shot while it was raining or misting and that can sometimes hamper how the lens translates an image. 

Audio ***

The audio was mixed and dubbed in a Castilian Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 format that was nearly flawless.  English and French subtitles are included for those of us who are linguistically challenged.   

There were only a few dips in the audio during the outdoor sequences and during some of the scenes where Joan was screaming and yelling.   Other than that, the soundtrack was layered very nicely without sounding too heavy.   The dialogue was crisp and clear even if I couldnít understand a word they were saying.

Features *

Movie trailers for Son Of The Bride and Talk To Her (both of which are foreign language films) are included.

The menus were single still frames with point and click options.  You get a choice of subtitles in English or French but other than that, this DVDís features were almost non-existent.

Summary:

Love will drive you crazy and youíre crazy if you fall in love.  However, Mad Love will give you exactly what the title implies, so give this DVD a spin and watch one love struck girl and one amorous Prince begin living La Vida Loca!