My Mother Likes Women

Following the steamy Spanish film Bulgarian Lovers, which focuses on a bisexual male who mesmerizes a gay man, My Mother Likes Women (A mi madre le gustan las mujeres) is a story about Sofía (played by Rosa María Sardà), a divorced woman who has become a Lesbian. Just how she discovers new sexual happiness is much vaguer than in Better Than Chocolate (1999), but the news is announced at Sofía’s birthday party when her three daughters suddenly meet Eliska (played by Eliska Sirová), a Czech piano student, as their mother’s new partner; after the cake and candles, the couple plays a Schubert duo on the piano to demonstrate how happy their lives are intertwined. Sofía has generously provided thousands of pesetas to defray Eliska’s music scholarship, including the sale of an out-of-town property that the daughters evidently have coveted as their inheritance. All three daughters are surprised that their mother is a Lesbian, but for different reasons they cannot immediately accept the transformation, though her former husband, Carlos (played by Xabier Elorriaga), is entirely pleased with Sofía’s newfound love. Unmarried Sol (played by Silvia Abascal), a pop performing singer, at first pretends to be accepting but later vents her frustration by singing a song at her nightclub that outs her mother, who in turn is displeased that hundreds of people now know about her change in sexual preference. Also unaccepting, Elvira (played by Leonor Watling) is single, unable to attract a man, works for a book publisher who pays her very little, aspires to be a novelist, and sees a psychiatrist because she cannot make important decisions about her love life or her career. Gimena (played by María Pujalte) is the least accepting, possibly because her own marriage is on the rocks, and she proposes that they destroy the relationship by having another Lesbian seduce Eliska. After Sol abortively tries to follow through, Elvira catches Eliska’s attention. Because of Elvira’s interest in literature, Eliska finds her a kindred soul, so they socialize together; when Elvira makes advances on one occasion, Eliska declines. One night, however, Eliska and Elvira go out on the town; when they both return to Elvira’s apartment, she insists that Eliska must remain until she falls asleep. Eliska indeed stays but unexpectedly falls asleep in the apartment for the night. Sofía, meanwhile, is worried sick at the nonreturn of Eliska. In the morning, Sofía calls Elvira to locate Eliska, but the latter pretends not to know her whereabouts. When Eliska returns to Sofía’s apartment, admitting that she collapsed all night at Elvira’s apartment, tears fall from Sofía’s eyes because she believes that Eliska has betrayed her; in the heat of anger and disappointment, Sofía asks Eliska to get out of her life. Accordingly, Eliska returns to family in her native Prague, where her pianistic skills quickly make her a national celebrity; in contrast, she was an unknown in Spain. Meanwhile, at a scheduled piano concert in Madrid, Sofía faints. Since Sofía’s depression has adversely affected her work, the three sisters realize that they have gone too far. Elvira then becomes assertive, insisting that they must go to Prague in order to persuade Eliska to return to Madrid so that she can resume her relationship with their mother. The video postcard scenes of lovely Prague (though none of Madrid) are a high point in the soap opera, and that is where the mother and her three daughters delightfully sort out their love lives in an ending reminiscent of a Rossini comic opera. However, a breakup over harsh words over just one incident seems rather improbable, and most of the comedic elements are lost in translation from Spanish to English. My Mother Likes Women, directed by Daniela Fejerman and Inés París, not only is dedicated to their parents but also, presumably, to their own Lesbian relationship. Instead of the “Lesbian problem” identified by the three sisters, the film tries to indicate that Spain has a more serious homophobia problem. My Mother Likes Women subliminally argues that Spain should be the next country to legalize gay and Lesbian marriage, and indeed the filmmakers may indeed get their wish under the new government elected in early 2004. If so, the film’s most important message will become anachronistic. MH

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