Princesas

MONDAYS IN THE SUN director Fernando Leon de Aranoa's fourth feature chronicles the touching friendship between two Madrid prostitutes, one who's sealed herself off in order to ply her trade in secrecy and a recent arrival who desperately needs her help. Caye (Candela Pena) forces herself to sit quietly at family meals while her mother, Pilar (Mariana Cordero),...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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MONDAYS IN THE SUN director Fernando Leon de Aranoa's fourth feature chronicles the touching friendship between two Madrid prostitutes, one who's sealed herself off in order to ply her trade in secrecy and a recent arrival who desperately needs her help. Caye (Candela Pena) forces herself to sit quietly at family meals while her mother, Pilar (Mariana Cordero), speculates on the latest bouquet of anonymously sent flowers. But Caye knows her mother sends the flowers to herself. Though contemptuous of her mother's romantic belief that we only exist insofar as another person thinks about us, Caye is perpetrating a far greater deception. Unbeknownst to her mother, brother or eminently respectable sister, a school principal, Caye is a prostitute. She is one of a group of working girls who once congregated in the corner park on Providencias Street, but now that the park has been overrun by competition from Africa and the Caribbean, the Spanish women huddle together with their cell phones in a nearby beauty shop. Caye resents the undocumented immigrants she claims are ruining the market by taking jobs away from hardworking Spanish citizens like herself, then she winds up befriending one almost by accident. One afternoon, annoyed by loud music blasting from a window across her narrow courtyard, Caye lets herself into the apartment and finds a striking, badly beaten beauty named Zulema (Micaela Nevarez), a park regular, cowering in her bathroom. Zulema says she was abused by a sadistic regular (Antonio Duran), a civil servant who promised to help her obtain a work permit that would allow her to visit the son she left behind in the Dominican Republic. At the hospital, Caye warns Zulema that she's probably just one of several vulnerable women her john has been stringing along with the same empty promise, but Zulema is so desperate she's willing to take the chance. Over the course of the next few days, Caye and Zulema become friends; Zulema even braids Caye's hair and takes her shopping. Caye keeps her new friendship a secret from her coworkers back at the boutique, until she herself learns the truth of her mother's belief: We may exist without others, but we would have no way of knowing it. It's a theme Leon de Aranoa repeats several times — Caye has a habit of waxing poetic at a moment's notice, but it's an affect that Pena manages to pull off with surprising sincerity — and while it's enough to bring a tear or two to even the most jaundiced eye, his film works best as a soberly witty commentary on the workplace and makes an interesting companion piece to MONDAYS IN THE SUN. The sight of a group of call girls sitting around a beauty salon complaining about undocumented workers and the state of the job market is a ingenious satirical set piece that speaks volumes.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: MONDAYS IN THE SUN director Fernando Leon de Aranoa's fourth feature chronicles the touching friendship between two Madrid prostitutes, one who's sealed herself off in order to ply her trade in secrecy and a recent arrival who desperately needs her help. C… (more)

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