Film review: A quirky celebration and affirmation of self-hood in Rosa’s Wedding -a poignant and tender film

What: Rosa’s Wedding (Spain – Spanish title La boda de Rosa)
Director: Icíar Bollaín
Starring: Candela Peña, Nathalie Poza, Sergi López, Sergi Lopez, Paula Usero
Language: Spanish, Valencian, Catalan with English subtitles
Genre: Drama-comedy
Duration: 99 minutes
Available to view in South Africa: European Film Festival (South Africa) -October 14 -24, 2021
Where: Tickets: No charge – tickets are free
Access: The online screening of films are geo-blocked for viewing in South Africa only      

In the delightful and charming film, Rosa’s Wedding, we see Rosa (Candela Peña) who is on the cusp of turning 45. She is fed up with her life. She is a hard working seamstress in the film industry. That doesn’t leave much space for creativity and space for personal fulfilment. Drastic action is needed and a public statement – to family, friends and community. She decides to get married but to tell you what that entails, would plot spoil this quirky, tender and endearing film.

Many people quip that in their busy lives, they need a “wife”. With same-sex marriages, there are two wife set-ups. Men are increasingly staying at home and taking on the role of primary care giver “the wife”. Still, it is also sadly the situation that for the most part, we live in patriarchal dominated societies. Women tend to be propping up others. Within that, it frequently falls upon a designated person, invariably a woman who does it all; never saying no; always available; holding it together. And to what cost? For Rosa, there is a crunch time. She is tired of being downtrodden. Can she regain her power by taking back the power that she has lost- by getting married? The film has a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is a thoroughly enjoyable comedy. For me, it starts off a tad slow as we see Rosa navigating her father’s invasion of her space (he moves in). We watch as she placates the family and tries to comfort her young daughter who is living a life of kitchen-sink domestic torture in Manchester with twin babies; a mess of a flat and an absent partner.

The scenes of the wedding are glorious- the wedding that Rosa planned- not what others envisaged. Her red dress is spectacular (it is in the poster, so I am not giving anything away). The setting is alluring. I think we could all do with a wedding like this. The award-winning Candela Peña is captivating as Rosa – weighed down by guilt, terrified of making a change; taking a chance. Peña charges Rosa with a vulnerability and strength and is a joy to watch. The intense interactions between mother and daughter, in the final scenes, are magnificently framed.

Rosa’s Wedding is a poignant and tender film. It is not only a film for the over 40s. It is a cautionary tale for young ones: Think before you sign up and shackle yourself in domesticity- without any outlet to loosen the ties that bind us to each other. Connections and relationships are essential, sure, but when connections become chains of servitude, well, no that is not cool. It may be an old story – women trying to have it all and please others – but under the hand of director, Icíar Bollaín and the charismatic Candela Peña as Rosa; beautiful cinematography by Sergi Gallardo and Beatriz Sastre (oh that wedding scene!), this film crackles with vivid and memorable characters. It is confrontational but not judgemental. Rosa’s Wedding made me smile – in a good way. The delicious irony of the film lies in the concept of Rosa’s wedding – the symbolism and power of the ceremonial –which is distinct from marriage – and possible servitude.

Rosa’s Wedding was released recently – August 2021 – and has won a bunch of awards – including Special Jury Award, Best Supporting Actress, Málaga Spanish Film Festival 2020 and Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Song, Goya Awards 2021.

Featured image: ©Natxo Martínez. Supplied