Belle Epoque

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1

Content: -3

This foreign film is set in Spain during the early 1930's immediately before the Republic (socialists) dethroned the king. Republic sympathizer Fernando (Jorge Samz) has just deserted the Spanish army. One evening he wanders into a village and meets a man named Don Manolo (Fernando Gomez). As Don and Fernando become friends, Don learns that Fernando attended seminary for six years before becoming an agnostic and socialist. The next day, Don tries to put Fernando on the train to Madrid before his daughters arrive for their annual summer stay. When they step off the train however, Fernando is overwhelmed by their beauty and deliberately misses his train. When Fernando appears at his door, Manolo allows him to stay in his home even though he suspects Fernando's intent. The rest of the film details Fernando's sexual encounters with each of Manolo's daughters and his eventual marriage to the youngest. This Academy Award winner for best foreign film, with its Spanish dialogue and English subtitles, is somewhat difficult to follow.

BELLE EPOQUE's mix of the sexually shocking, political socialism and Catholic agnosticism, is somewhat strange. It chronicles the exploits of four manipulative women who are searching for men they can control and Fernando's pathetic inability to control his hormones. There are a number of graphic and unusual sex scenes on screen. Even more bizarre is the relationship between Don Manolo and his wife. Manolo complains that he cannot be unfaithful to his wife because he is impotent with every woman except her and she travels most of the year. When she appears, it is to accommodate his sexual appetite. Many derogatory references to the Catholic church are disturbing. But even more disturbing is the shady priest who eventually hangs himself when the socialists come into power. An abundance of obscenities is included in the English subtitles. Only the sexually immoral will find value in BELLE EPOQUE.

Preview Reviewer: Krista Kay Bontrager
Sony Pictures Classics, 711 5th Ave., NY, NY 10022

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (18) times - Mild 15, Moderate 3

Obscene Language: Many (10) times (s-word 3, f-word 7)

Profanity: Exclamatory - 7 times

Violence: Moderate (one murder, two implied suicides ()

Sex: Several times (on screen 3 times with near female nudity; implied twice with one brief female frontal nudity)

Nudity: Several times (brief female frontal, rear nudity; near nudity in sex scenes and woman in underwear)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Sisters are sexually suggestive throughout; reference to sleeping with whore; marital unfaithfulness condoned

Drugs: Smoking, social drinking

Other: Negative portrayal of Catholic church and clergy; virginity portrayed as negative

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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