In a well-appointed villa in seventeenth century Spain, a wealthy, widowed noblewoman, Otavia (Verónica Forqué) vows to marry off her two beautiful, but problematic daughters: Nise (Macarena Gómez), whose dark, smoldering beauty is equally matched by the ferocity of her intellect and penchant for uncompromising, philosophical debates with the finest intellectuals of the day, and Finea (Silvia Abascal), the sweet and fair, but (seemingly) dimwitted sibling whose marital prospects, despite having been made all the more attractive by the endowment of a generous dowry, have been tempered by her exasperating bubble-headedness and naïve gullibility. With Nise amorously pursued by a roguish and penniless, but well-respected poet and cavalier named Laurencio (José Coronado) and Finea courted by the vain and self-absorbed Liseo (Roberto Sanmartín) at the instigation of his parents, Otavia’s hopes to find appropriate suitors for her difficult daughters seems to be within her grasp, until the fickle Laurencio disrupts the fated course of arranged love by turning his attentions instead on Finea in the hopes of acquiring a small fortune through her dowry. Adapted from the titular comedy by Spanish playwright Lope de Vega, Manuel Iborra’s La Dama Boba evokes the lightness, burlesque humor, and effervescent tone of William Shakespeare’s comedies (most notably, The Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night) to create a sincere and incisive exposition on the nature of identity and the transformative power of love. However, inevitably, like Shakespeare’s escapist comedies, La Dama Boba similarly suffers from a certain degree of archaicness, blunt absurdity, and caricature that, like Finea’s lapses of common sense, renders the memory of the film equally fleeting and transposable.
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