Talk of Angels (1998)




Director:  Nick Hamm. 

Starring:  Polly Walker (Mary Lavelle), Vincent Perez (Francisco Areavaga), Franco Nero (Dr. Vicente Areavaga), Frances McDormand (Conlon), Ruth McCabe (O'Toole), Marisa Paredes (DoZa Consuelo), Francisco Rabal (Don Jorge), Penélope Cruz (Pilar), Ariadna Gil (Beatriz), Rossy de Palma (Elena), Britta Smith (Duggan), Anita Reeves (Harty), Veronica Duffy (Keogh), Leire Berrocal (Milagros), Jorge de Juan (Jaime).

Irish woman flees impending marriage to a political activist only to find political troubles in 1930s Spain


From IMDb:  "This is the story of a young Irish woman who comes to Spain to escape from the pressures she feels about her impending marriage to a political activist in Ireland. But in Spain in the 1930's, taking a job of governess in a wealthy family, she finds the same kinds of political unrest. In fact, it isn't long before she finds herself attracted to a married man who is similarly involved in the struggle against fascism and Franco. This awakens her to her nature that brings her to such men and resolves for her what she must do about the life she left in Ireland."


Good movie.  1936, N. Spain, shortly before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.  Mary Lavelle comes to Spain from Ireland with the voice of her friends still in her head saying she would regret it.  She is to be the governess for the Areavaga family, with their three daughters: Pilar, Mila and Leonor.  Their mother is a little bit jealous of the young, pretty Irish woman, but their father Dr. Vincente Areavaga approves of her. 

Mary has a fiancée back at home named Michael. She wanted to get away from the tenseness of the Irish civil war.  But as she describes the situation in Ireland to the Spaniards they tell her "this country is as bad as your own."  On the verge of civil war, Spain is a dangerous country. 

Meeting a group of Irish governesses makes the transition to Spain a lot easier for Mary.  The group refers to itself as "our little corner of Ireland."  Mary especially likes loving O-Toole and the non-nonsense Conlon. 

Her Spanish family is very political  Dr. Vincente is a part-time writer of political articles.  Although he is of the wealthy class in Spain, his sympathy is more with the socialists.  In fact, many of his class think he is a traitor.  After all, he even patched up one of the socialist leaders, Pablo.  His wife, however, sympathizes with the fascists.  Mary meets their son, Francisco and begins to fall in love with him.  But Francisco already has a wife, Beatriz.  Francisco has recently either resigned or been sacked from his governmental position, probably because of his pro-socialist views. 

Mary goes to Madrid with the young girls to meet their Aunt Christina.  A demonstration is violently broken up by the police.  Mary is very worried about Francisco when he does not show up at Aunt Christina's place.  Despite the danger, she goes out to look for him.  When she returns home, Francisco is waiting for her.  It seems he was out looking for her. 

Francisco takes her to one of his favorite places: Hermitage of the Holy Angels. 

Mary's friend O'Toole gets married to the Spaniard Carlos, who owns a small shop. 

Mary decides that, in spite of her love for Francisco, she must go home. 

The body of Pablo  is delivered on the doorstep of Dr. Vincente.  The doctor is then shot and killed. 

Mary gets on the train for her long journey home. 

My wife said that the movie was "sad."  But I guess that depends on how things work out with Michael back home in Ireland.  After all, Francisco was already married and Spain seemed no better, if not worse, than Ireland.  Spain was on the verge of making an alliance with Hitler and Mussolini and Spanish leader Franco would become a dictator for many years.  At least Ireland never went that far down on the political scale.   


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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