Gaudi Afternoon (2001) / Comedy-Mystery
MPAA Rated: R for language and sexual content
Running Time: 97 min.
Cast: Judy Davis, Marcia Gay Harden, Lili Taylor, Christopher Bowen, Juliette Lewis, Courtney Jines, Maria Barranco
Director: Susan Seidelman
Screenplay: James Myhre
Based on the novel by Barbara Wilson, Gaudi Afternoon is a gender-bender mystery that plays as a mix of Woody Allen and Pedro Almodovar, where most of its laughs come from the interaction of the eccentric characters and the comical situations that they are put in. Directed by Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan, She-Devil), this is a breezy diversion that offers modest entertainment from the silly story mostly due to the funny performances from some pretty good actresses, all of whom seem to be having fun with the material. Like Seidelmanís previous efforts, itís a fluffy and confused affair, and while it has its moments, it never quite gels into a satisfying whole.
Judy Davis (Barton Fink, Deconstructing Harry) plays Cassandra, a world-traveling writer currently residing in Barcelona, making ends meet through translation jobs and the like. One day she receives a proposition from a mysterious woman named Frankie (Harden, Space Cowboys) who wants Cassandra to do a job for her finding her estranged husband so she can tie up some loose ends in their relationship. However, not all is what it appears to be, as the relationship Frankie describes is actually nothing like Cassandra envisioned.
Gaudi Afternoon isnít really very weighty or memorable, but it does sport some genial performances from the colorful cast, with a nice job by Judy Davis playing a nervous and inhibited neurotic, but with a good deal of charm. As much as I enjoyed a moment now and then, eventually the wafer-thin antics begin to wear out their welcome, and it doesnít really help that for all of its comical nature, there arenít any genuinely funny moments for the duration.
Gaudi Afternoon will probably be most enjoyed by fans of the director or any of the stars, and seeing them in roles they arenít accustomed to playing may kick up your enjoyment of this movie up a notch or two. Perhaps those into gender studies will also find some relevance to the twists and turns in the nature of the family unit as represented here. Quirky, but in the end, unremarkable.
©2004 Vince Leo