Criterion Sunday 353: Sólo con tu pareja (1991)

As a debut feature film, this certainly suggests some of the talent that Alfonso Cuarón (and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki) would go on to show, with its rich imagery and canny editing. It feels like there’s a clear debt owed here to Almodóvar, not just in the look of the piece, but also the fact that it’s a darkly comic sex farce, the kind of thing the Spanish director had rather attained a reputation for by this time. The central character, Tomás Tomás (Daniel Gimémez Cacho), is a playboy with a string of girlfriends, and is almost introduced shimmying along an outdoor balcony between two of them, whom he has in separate apartments, one that of his doctor friend and neighbour Mateo Mateos (Luis de Icaza). And already you are probably getting an idea of the comedic use of names, too. Naturally a lot of this stuff is played for broad comedy, and it does get rather too broad at times (all the classic tropes, mostly involving him naked in the wrong place at the wrong time). It then gets a bit darker and closer to the wire when Tomás’s misdiagnosis of AIDS is brought into the plot, but to be fair I found the stereotyping of Japanese businessmen with their constantly flashing cameras to be the detail which has aged most badly. Still, there’s a lot of energy in the film and a stylishness which commends it.


  • The primary extra is two short films, one each by Alfonso and his brother Carlos. Alfonso’s is his 1983 student short film Cuarteto para el fin del tiempo (Quartet for the End of Time, 1983), a grainy black-and-white film that only hints at his later work really (the palette and the domestic setting recall Roma, but the expressive fluidity and richness of that film is clearly not yet established in his work). It’s about a depressed guy, a musician, padding around his apartment and coming apart at the seams, and that’s the feeling it conveys over its 23 minute or so running time. His brother Carlos’s short is one made after their success with Y tu mamá también a decade later, called Noche de bodas (Wedding Night, 2002) and also a sex comedy, though at a miniature level. It’s the classic short in many ways: a simple witty idea executed swiftly. It has the look of a glossy advert, but then the pivot comes and it’s cute, and that’s pretty much it.

FILM REVIEW: Criterion Collection
Director Alfonso Cuarón; Writers Carlos Cuarón and Alfonso Cuarón; Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki; Starring Daniel Giménez Cacho, Claudia Ramírez, Luis de Icaza; Length 124 minutes.

Seen at home (DVD), London, Tuesday 4 August 2020.


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