Sirk aside, the actual inspiration for Vidas Privadas appears to be the recent work of Pedro Almodóvar. The real-life connection is that Cármen is played by Cecilia Roth, wife of Vidas Privadas director Fito Páez and star of Almodóvar's All About My Mother and Talk to Her. Artistically, the connection is that Páez emulates the tone of those two films in his own: Vidas Privadas is directed in a similarly deliberate and tasteful manner, and the melodrama is offered with the same straight-faced, unadorned factuality that seems to have descended to Almodóvar via Robert Bresson. In Almodóvar, the director's unflappable cool counters the outlandishness of the proceedings and his presentation of it; it's like a staring match in which he dares you to take his predicaments lightly. (And in a film like All About My Mother he wins.) In Vidas Privadas the line between the melodramatic and the overwrought is crossed, sometimes with both feet; in a scene such as one in which Gustavo confronts his father about a family secret, the temptation to laugh is too great to ignore.
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