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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Elisa & Marcela **

Starring: Natalia de Molina, Greta Fernández, Sara Casasnovas Director: Isabel Coixet Country: Spain It’s the late 19th century and two childhood friends, Elisa (de Molina) and Marcela (Fernández) fall in love. They live together in Spain and want to get married. Except this is the late 19th century. And nobody has done this since Roman times. In this true story, finding UK release on Netflix, this black and white period piece shows the lengths they had to go to in order to pull this off; including one of them assuming the identity of a man. In theory, this sounds interesting enough. How two people of the same sex could live together as a couple in the years before any semblance of Gay Rights is fascinating. We now know there were countless who did, of whom we know of the ones who failed and mostly don’t of the ones who succeeded. By depicting this story in crisp monochrome there is clearly an attempt here at forcing this story’s credibility (which, no doubt, it has in real life), but the film’s insistence on lingering eroticism strongly discredits it. One minute we’re seeing them bruised and battered and the next they’re copulating live on screen. Yes, this is a love story, but it feels like the camera is exploiting them as much as their society. The film also suffers from trashy dialogue, a long run-time and a severe case of Inactivity Syndrome. Watching the early stages of their relationship is like watching some very niche period (as in time) porn, while watching their later life like a bad production of Twelfth Night. It looks stunning, but the boring script doesn’t lend itself to a great Romance movie. It’s great to see historical LGBT stories finding their way to the screen, but this is certainly not The Danish Girl. OUT NOW ON NETFLIX.

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