My Name is Juani Bigas Luna

My Name is Juani Bigas Luna
A decade ago, Spanish director Bigas Luna had some international press and the clout to launch Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. This recent effort seems to find him at low ebb and desperate to connect with a young generation he doesn’t really understand. The eponymous Juani is a bold small-town girl with big dreams of becoming a singer. Unfortunately, her boyfriend has the bad form to cheat on her, while her friend must escape an abusive relationship, so the two women of course decamp for Madrid. Alas, their dreams are deferred upon discovering that crashing the entertainment party is a tad more difficult than they had figured. Take out the sexual content and the profanity and this could be a Warner musical from the ’30s, and while I’ve liked some of those movies, the film invests its clichés with far more importance than they can possibly support. This is the kind of fogeyish reckoning with the young’uns that defines the kids through their consumer products — a scene where two men discuss wheel rims is so obviously pleased for noticing such a detail that it misses the chance to sketch any others. I suppose there are pleasures to be had in the relentless vivacity of the look and the noticeable attractiveness of the cast but for all of its huffing and puffing about kids these days it hasn’t got enough credibility to make you care. By the time mom gives a speech to keep our heroine following her dreams, it’s all too obvious that Luna wants the appearance of au courantness to keep him from trying too hard on the script front. Not a gruelling experience but nothing to actively seek out either. (Mongrel Media)