Peppermint Frappe (1967)

Unfortunately for the Spanish cinema scene, its image will be always linked to Almodovar and the cheap movies done during El Destape starring Alfredo Landa and Antonio Ozores but the truth is that there were awesome directors, actors and scenario writers that did a great job during the 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s. They were young guys, most of them with good families behind, that tried to do something critical with the situation Spain was living in those years but that at the same time could be approved by the standards of the severe regime. If Marco Ferreri did his best with El verdugo or El pisito, Berlanga also produced some great works like Plácido, and then we had Bardem with some neorrealism-esque film in the works of Muerte de un ciclista. Then there is Carlos Saura, younger than the preceding I believe but also more clear in trying to depict something in his movies.

Carlos Saura started doing movies in the 50s, but perhaps his best appears in the 60s and 70s when working with a young girl called Geraldine Chaplin whom he also dated for 10 years.Peppermint Frappe is one of the fruits of that great collaboration and is a movie that needs to be seen twice or three times in order to see what’s going on.

The main plot tells us Julian’s story (José Luís López Vázquez), a middle-aged man who has spent all his days working as a doctor in Cuenca. His life could be seen as modest, simple, without pretensions: plain boring. But everything changes when an old friend of him (Alfredo Mayo) comes back to Cuenca (where the action takes place) in order to introduce him his brand-new wife (Geraldine Chaplin).

Brand new is the perfect definition of that woman since she is treated by both of them like a toy, like most of the games they used to play in the past, just that this time, Julian wishes her like he never wished anybody. The final character in the movie is Julian’s assistant, also played by Chaplin, who is merely an unpolished diamond that Julian tries to make as similar as he can to his friend’s bride. Humiliated by the couple, Julian will prepare his revenge with just the aid of his favorite cocktail: Peppermint Frappe.

Those are the ingredients of the movie but as I mentioned things go a lot deeper. Peppermint Frappe is the reflection of a frustrated society, more worried about appearance than about the real substance, full of desires that can’t be accomplished.

The photography depicts Cuenca and its surroundings during autumn, with great attention to the city itself but also to the remains of a past that will never come back. Soundtrack by Los Canarios will also put us back into the days of that Spain, a country fighting for a bit of freedom in a whole ambience of ruins and unburied past. When you see Geraldine dancing along “The Incredible Miss Perryman” while Julian takes pictures of her and her husband preparing an old game of theirs you immediately grasp what’s going on.

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