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Largo retorno (Pedro Lazaga, Spain, 1979)

Featuring Lynne Frederick, Charo López, Mark Burns, Ricardo Merino, George Rigaud, Fernando Hilbeck, Adriano Domínguez, Concha Cuetos, Andrés Mejuto, Mayrata O'Wisiedo, Juan Diego and Paul Benson

Produced in Spain and filmed partly in Italy, A Long Return, also known as A Venezia muore un'estate (Summer Died in Venice) is a romance of the kind that nowadays we only watch to laugh. It combines the theme of falling in love with a girl to whom something medically tragic happens, with fears of a dystopian future that haunted the cinema of the early 'seventies.

The leading lady is Lynne Frederick, only twenty at the time; the leading man looks well into middle age. It seems odd to have such an age gap already, when the point is to have the girl awake from a frozen sleep to find him another forty years into decline.

Who writes a thing like this, and at whom are they aiming it? Men identifying with the protagonist are going to be feeling secretly unworthy of the girl already without being turned into a doddering old man. And the love scenes, while not explicit enough for the lecherous, are long and passionate enough to make for uncomfortable viewing in polite company.

Maybe it's wish-fulfilment sci-fi fantasy for gold-digging young women? Freezing herself for half a lifetime is a neat little scam to inherit from a fool who already has streaks of grey in his hair. The beauty being that it's all so implausible he would never suspect a thing. But it doesn't work here because the girl is already richer than he is.

It's a tolerably well-made film for those looking for a romantic curiosity very much of its age. Photography is of the chocolate-box school, and there's enough chamber music on the soundtrack to grate after a while.

Cineymax Spain link


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