Anything goes in this candy-colored ode to romance and sex

 

By Rene Rodriguez | rrodriguez@MiamiHerald.com

At the start of Una hora mas en Canarias (which translates into One More Hour in the Canary Islands, but has been retitled With or Without Love for the U.S. market), Claudia (Angie Cepeda) and Pablo (Quim Gutíerrez) have stopped seeing each other for a month now, but she’s not quite ready to give him up. “I love you, I adore you and we’ll be together,” she tells him in a completely matter-of-fact, non-stalkerish way. “You’re like a pimple on my ass!” he shoots back at her, bewildered at her inability to take no for an answer.

Claudia is a bombshell, the owner of a bustling Madrid wine shop and – oh, married to the wealthy German (Diego Martín). She’s a pampered woman used to getting what she wants: When she goes out on a shopping/hairstyle spree, a troupe of dancers follows behind, serenading her with choreographed musical numbers until she tires of them and orders them to stop. So even though Pablo claims to want to have nothing to do with her, and he has even landed another girlfriend, Elena (Miren Ibarguen), who he intends to marry, Claudia refuses to believe him. She’s in love with her lover and her husband, and who is to tell this vivacious, relentless woman she can’t have what she wants?

Bustling with screwball humor, rapid-fire dialogue, blooming colors and the occasional musical number, With or Without Love leavens the romantic comedy with a healthy dollop of charming fantasy. This is the third (and best) film directed by Spain’s David Serrano, who previously served as screenwriter on the former Miami Film Festival opener The Other Side of the Bed, which used a similar mix of song and sex appeal to lure viewers into a giddy rapture. With or Without Love, which centers on Claudia’s enlistment of her sister Monica (Juana Acosta) in an elaborate scheme to win her ex-boyfriend back, pushes the whimsy a lot harder: The movie will not please those with a low tolerance for the sweet stuff, and some of the funny is admittedly lost in translation (the film will play better to Spanish-speaking viewers).

But only the flintiest of grinches will be able to dismiss the efforts of this hugely magnetic group of actors, all of whom bounce off each other with a sharp comedic timing that lends wit and edge to the admittedly broad humor. And the story pushes the romantic stakes to a surprising degree: This may be a lighter-than-air bauble, but Claudia means business, and she’ll have her man by whatever means necessary. With or Without Love will either make you long to fall in love – or be thankful you’re not.

Movie Info

Cast: Angie Cepeda, Quim Gutíerrez, Juana Acosta, Miren Ibarguen, Diego Martín.

Director: David Serrano.

Screenwriters: David Serrano, Olga Iglesias.

Producer: Tomás Cimadevilla.

Running time: 96 minutes. Vulgar language, sexual situations, spontaneous musical numbers, adult themes. In Spanish with English subtitles. Plays at 9:45 p.m. Friday at Gusman.

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