We're looking for contributors

THE GRANDFATHER Review - Fernando Fernán Gómez, Cayetana Guillén Cuervo José Luis Garci


Director: José Luis Garci

Cast: Fernando Fernán Gómez, Cayetana Guillén Cuervo, Rafael Alonso, Agustín González, Cristina Cruz, Alicia Rozas, Fernando Guillén, Francisco Piquer

Screenplay: José Luis Garci and Horacio Valcárcel; from Benito Pérez Galdòs' 1904 novel

Fernando Fernan Gomez in The Grandfather
Fernando Fernán Gómez, The Grandfather

The Grandfather by Jose Luis Garci

El abuelo / The Grandfather is a film with a pedigree. It is based on a novel by Benito Pérez Galdòs, considered by many the greatest Spanish writer of the 19th century; its director, José Luis Garci, won an Academy Award for his 1982 drama Volver a empezar / Beguin the Beguine; and its star, veteran Fernando Fernán Gómez, was one of the most admired actors in Spain. Add to that the stunning work of cinematographer Raúl Pérez Cubero and Manuel Balboa's evocative score, and the sum total should be a cinematic masterpiece. Well, not quite.

Garci has perhaps been watching too many Mexican soap operas, for that is the feel he gives to this tale of greed and prejudice set near the turn of the 20th century.

Fernán Gómez plays the elderly and now-impoverished aristocrat Don Rodrigo, el Conde de Albrit, who returns from the Americas to his small town in the Asturias, in northern Spain, following the death of his son. Once back home, he discovers that his son had left a letter stating that one of his two daughters was actually the product of his wife's affair with a (now also deceased) painter.

Intent on discovering the identity of his real granddaughter, the one who shall perpetuate the family's bloodline and honor, Don Rodrigo clashes with his widowed daughter-in-law, Doña Lucrecia Richmond (Cayetana Guillén Cuervo), a foreigner he had never liked. Not only does Lucrecia refuse to divulge the identity of her "illegitimate" child, but she also tries to commit Don Rodrigo to a monastery against his will.

Living like a mendicant, Don Rodrigo still manages to teach a lesson or two in dignity and honor to both the bourgeois and the religious leaders who have taken control of the area. But sooner rather than later, the elderly patriarch will have to come to terms with his own self-righteousness. What is more important: his love for both of Doña Lucrecia's young daughters or his views on family honor?

Garci's soapish touch doesn't manifest itself by way of crass melodrama; in the sedate The Grandfather, no one throws him or herself to the floor in screaming agony. Even so, it is clearly palpable in the film's cheesy sentimentality – which is not helped by some highly artificial post-sync dubbing. That said, The Grandfather works the way some Mexican soaps work. I ended up enjoying Garci's film despite my better judgment.

But then again, how could I resist Fernando Fernán Gómez's star turn as the grouchy grandpa, betrayed by those he had helped in the past, and torn between ancient traditions and his love for his granddaughters, regardless of their progeny? And if Garci's touch is somewhat stilted, The Grandfather is immensely helped by Cubero's magical lens and by Balboa's haunting score, both of which perfectly evoke the spirit of the rugged coast of northern Spain. With their assistance, The Grandfather magically transports us to a time and a way of life that have long since disappeared.

Note: A version of this The Grandfather review was initially posted in October 2004.

Academy Award Nomination

Best Foreign Language Film

If you liked the article THE GRANDFATHER Review - Fernando Fernán Gómez, Cayetana Guillén Cuervo José Luis Garci, please recommend it to your friends. See share buttons above and on the left.
Follow Alt Film Guide on Google+, Facebook and/or join the FB group All About Movies.
THE GRANDFATHER Review - Fernando Fernán Gómez, Cayetana Guillén Cuervo José Luis Garci © 2004-2015 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s). Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

Continue Reading: MULHOLLAND DR. Review - Naomi Watts, Justin Theroux, Laura Elena Harring David Lynch

Previous Post: SANCTUM No.1; THE KING'S SPEECH Highest Average; BLACK SWAN Soars: Box Office

Click on 'Load Comments' to leave a comment and/or read previous comments about THE GRANDFATHER Review - Fernando Fernán Gómez, Cayetana Guillén Cuervo José Luis Garci.

Important: Different views and opinions are perfectly fine, but courtesy and respect are imperative. Abusive, bigoted, baseless (spreading misinformation), and/or trollish/inflammatory comments will be blocked and offenders may be banned.


Oscar 2007: BORDER CAFE and SWEET MUD Submitted
NUOVOMONDO, CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER: Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Entries
'Stage Beauty' Movie Review: Billy Crudup Gender Confusion
'Undertow' Movie Review: David Gordon Green
TEETH Mitchell Lichtenstein
Elia Kazan/Oscar Actors: James Dean, Marlon Brando
Oscar 2008 Nominations: Foreigners and Those Missing in Action
Foreign Language Film Symposium
STAR TREK, IL DIVO, THE ROAD (But Not AVATAR): Oscar 2010 Make-Up Semi-Finalists
Bill Condon's DREAMGIRLS: Biggest Oscar Snubs #3c
Best Picture THE HURT LOCKER: Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal's Oscar Acceptance Speeches
AVATAR's Andrew R. Jones Photo: Governors Ball 2010
Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers' SWING TIME Academy Screening
Watch Online Live Streaming Oscar Nominations Announcement
Christopher Nolan, THE DARK KNIGHT: Biggest Oscar Snubs #3a
'127 Hours' Aron Ralston, Reese Witherspoon Photos
Billy Crystal: Oscar 2012 Host
'Love Is Strange' Movie Review: 'Beautiful' Gay Romantic Drama
Honorary Oscars: Hayao Miyazaki Among Recipients