Movie: Have you ever read a cover to a dvd that made you think "Wow! This is just what I want to see!" only to find something completely different? Well, that's what this review is all about. Here are the quotes, tell me whether it sounds "good" to you:
"Erotically charged, impassioned!" by the Village Voice
"Lesbian passion seething behind convent walls..." by the Boston Globe
"...a thrilling romance of startling passion and intensity." on the boxcover
If you're a guy like me, this is starting to sound like a good porno or at least an unrated, only shown at night on Cinemax, flick. The name of the movie is I, Worst Of All (Yo, la Peor de Todas).
The movie is about a 17th Century nun in Mexico, Sister Juana (Assumpta Serna), who joined a convent in order to escape the realities of her day-becoming a wife which amounted to chattel, in a day when women were considered property without a brain. By joining up, she freed her mind to pursue her writing and science, without the rigors of a husband and wifely duties. If that sounds like a good plan, keep in mind that these were the days when the Spanish Inquisition was in full swing and sticking your neck out with heretical ideas or appearing "different" was a good way to find yourself invited to a BBQ, as the main course.
Had Sister Juana been less intelligent, none of her writing or studying would've mattered to the male dominated society. Unfortunately, the gal was sharp, very sharp, and perceived as a threat to the Church by those above her. The story detailed what amounted to her protector, the wife of the Governor/Viceroy (Dominique Sanda), who appreciated a strong woman with a keen mind. History is full of strong women, even if many of them have met their ultimate demise a bit earlier than their genetic programming would have had them do, and the powerful Vicereine kept Sister Juana's detractors at bay through her powerful and intelligent husband, who also held the Sister in great affection. Once they are recalled to Spain however, Juana's fate took a turn for the worse. The rest, as they say, is history and you can se the powerful story for yourself by watching the movie.
So, why would a company take what amounts to a powerful, intelligent look at one of the greatest poets of all time (Sister Juana's works took off long after her death) and advertise it with quotes like those above? Don't they realize that someone buying the movie under the pretense that they're going to see hot lesbo action, only to find it was based solely on a tiny little "friendship" kiss, might get kind of mad? It also totally alienates the true market for the movie-fans of historical fiction, feminists, and those who enjoy a well made movie that looks at the bigger issues of societal mores and the separation of church and state. I think they need to rework the package and sell it to those it was made for (I can see the director rolling in her grave over the packaging).
The movie itself was well scripted and acted. From the leads to the cranky religious zealots, all involved seemed to fit right in. The direction was also solid with only a couple scenes that might've been improved by editing for pacing purposes. While the print itself wasn't great, I've seen far worse foreign films over the years and the content was certainly strong enough to carry the less_than_stellar print used. In any case, I'm suggesting this one as Recommended in spite of the aforementioned problems, and would give it even higher praise if the original aspect ratio had been kept.
Picture: The picture was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame, not the original 1.85:1 ratio widescreen. There was a message at the beginning of the dvd that mentioned the print the dvd was made from was the best available and acknowledged the numerous artifacts and scratches but not the ratio problem. This being of importance to many collectors, I wanted to get it out of the way. Yes, there were a number of problems with the picture but the content was important enough for them to release it anyway.
Sound: The sound was presented in stereo Spanish with English subtitles. I didn't notice much separation of the channels but the vocals were clear as was the soundtrack.
Extras: 3 trailers and a short description of First Run Features on the dvd and a paper catalog for FRF's movies.
Final Thoughts: The movie deals with feminist issues almost as well as it would have if there were, in fact, hot lesbos having wild monkey love, and the overall performances were good enough that I enjoyed it-a movie about a heretic poet from 17th Century Mexico. Will wonders never cease? Check it out.