Sometimes movies win multiple awards because they're outstanding
films... and sometimes they win a full slate because there's nothing
much else on offer that year. Such is, I think, the case with The
Girl of Your Dreams (original
title: La niña de tus
ojos), which took home seven Spanish Goya Awards (the
equivalent of the Academy Awards), including Best Film. I've found
the Goya Awards to usually be a decent guide to good Spanish films,
but with The Girl of Your Dreams I was left scratching my
In this self-referential film, the title refers to a movie being
created by the characters, a troupe of actors who have fled
civil-war-torn 1930s Spain to Berlin, where they have been invited to
make German and Spanish versions of the same film, The Girl of
Your Dreams. The film opens with the bus-load of characters
arriving at the German film studios... and goes pretty much nowhere
for quite a while.
get the impression that we are supposed to be impressed by the period
sets and costumes, the attention to detail, and the overall ambiance
of the film. OK, it's well done. Now what? The Girl of Your Dreams
has an ensemble cast, and I imagine that part of the point of the
film is to see how the troupe's situation affects the different
characters differently. Unfortunately, though, the characters are all
introduced in a rush, and they're never really well differentiated;
apart from Macarena (Penélope
Cruz, affecting a strong Andalucian accent for the role) none of them
are well established as characters, and so their interrelationships
lack interest for the viewer. A few amusing touches appear here and
there, mainly in the Spanish actors' reaction to Germany (and the
German set designers' ideas of what the film's setting in southern
Spain looks like), but they're few and far between, appearing only
often enough to make you wonder whether this is supposed to be a
comedy or a drama.
More than an hour into the film, we start seeing some vestiges of a
plot. Macarena becomes the center of a storm of potential trouble, as
she resists the lecherous advances of Dr. Goebbels, the Minister of
Propaganda. A bit later, she befriends one of the prisoner extras,
whose subsequent escape throws all the actors' lives into disarray
and outright danger. But at this point, the payoff is surprisingly
small. There's been no build-up to this point, as the film has more
or less meandered through a string of incidents without any
compelling narrative thread.
Girl of Your Dreams is directed by Fernando Trueba, and in fact
it is strikingly similar in tone and execution to Trueba's earlier
Epoque, which also featured Penélope
Cruz. There's the same odd mix of humor with mostly straight drama,
the lack of any vestige of a normal narrative, and the slightly
exaggerated or at least rather peculiar characters. Viewers who
enjoyed Belle Epoque will most likely find The Girl of Your
Dreams to their taste... and vice versa.
Lolafilms has given The Girl of Your Dreams a very nice video
transfer onto DVD, with an anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 widescreen
transfer. The film's fairly subdued color palette is heavy on the
browns and blacks, but the contrast is handled well even in
challenging scenes, and overall the image has a clean appearance,
though a few print flaws do sneak through here and there. Edge
enhancement is virtually absent, and while there's a certain softness
to some of the longer-distance shots, middle-distance and close-up
shots look excellent. The English subtitles are optional, and
presented in an easy-to-read white font. Overall, it's a very solid
Two audio tracks are included here: the default Spanish Dolby 5.1,
and a dubbed Spanish Dolby 2.0 track. No, I didn't mis-type that; the
second track is also in Spanish, but dubbed. The original soundtrack,
which receives the 5.1 treatment, is in Castilian Spanish; the dubbed
track is in Latin American Spanish, which has a different accent.
(Misleadingly, on the DVD case it's called a "neutral Spanish"
track, which is nonsense. That's like re-dubbing a British film with
U.S. actors and calling it a "neutral English" track.)
Anyway, you'll want to choose the 5.1 track for two obvious reasons:
it features the voices of the real actors, not inferior voice actors,
and it offers surround sound.
The overall sound quality is quite solid. There's not a whole lot of
surround ambiance, but the side channels do get used to a certain
extent. A few times I felt that the dialogue wasn't as clear as it
ought to be, with the background parts of the soundtrack a little too
loud, but overall it is clear and satisfactory.
Optional English subtitles are provided. The default setting has
Spanish subtitles, which only appear during those parts of the German
dialogue that the audience is intended to understand.
There's a respectable slate of bonus materials here. Of most note is
a fairly substantial "Making of" documentary featuring
director Fernando Trueba discussing his thoughts on the film. The
interview segments with Trueba are intercut with mock-newsreel style
interviews with the various actors, who remain in character while
they discuss their roles in the film-within-the-film; it's a cute
conceit, but taken to a bit too much length. Another interesting
featurette is on "Visual effects," concentrating on the
paintings and set construction by Emilio Ruiz. Both featurettes are
in the original Spanish, with optional English subtitles.
For minor special features, we get a set of outtakes, and trailers
(theatrical and teaser) for the film.
liked Fernando Trueba's Belle
Epoque, you'll probably like The Girl of Your Dreams,
and vice versa. This rather peculiar film, with its
film-within-a-film set in Hitler's Berlin, has excellent production
values and well-known actors, but lacks an interesting story, making
it an exercise in wondering what the point is. I'm not particularly
enthused about it, but I'll grant it a "Rent it."