It’s not a nice day for a white wedding…
Beauty and desire can only take you so far in life, a lesson our main character is forced to learn, yet one which director Paula Oritz’s latest work fails to comprehend. A film of very little merit outside of banal superficiality, The Bride is a long trek in the desert for both its characters and audience alike. In this adaptation of Frederico Lorca’s Blood Wedding, pretty yet troubled people rise and fall, suffering tragedy and heartbreak in a pretty yet troubled place.
The Bride revolves around our titular protagonist’s dilemma on her wedding day: choosing between two childhood sweethearts whose families are caught in a bitter blood feud. Add in some Psychic Sally Mysticism and a classic cowboy Western dog whistle blowing throughout each scene: The Bride is born. Unlike Uma Thurman’s classic Tarantino heroine, this “Bride” has as much proactivity and intuition as Oritz’s latest film has originality and sincerity, which is to say that she has none. Picturesque and predictable essentially summarises Oritz’s damsel. There are a few scenes of saving grace in which the character is allowed to breathe and immerse herself, yet these moments come far and few between.
Oritz traps herself within the conventions of the love triangle, the plot rarely daring to defy the destiny set out by films gone by. The clichéd critique, “style over substance,” permeates the air this film breathes. Ortiz is far more concerned with lullabies and dream sequences layered with foreshadowing, sensual stares and desert panning shots to focus on crippling exposition, pigeon holed characters and the film’s overwhelming pretension. Despite being an adaptation, there is little indication to suggest the ensemble are more than set pieces. Whilst our main character’s primary crime was one of passion, The Bride is guilty of lack of tension to the first degree. Confrontations, revelations and ruminations fail to hold emotional resonance with the audience, providing viewers little to work with. Any signs of passion or desire are rooted solely in the performances of our leads, Imma Cuesta and Álex García, and not in Oritz’s script. No character development or event is built up efficiently until the film’s climax, yet even by then the audience is able to recite each line verbatim, having seen the same tale played out numerous times in better films.
However, The Bride is not entirely riddled with fault. Both Cuesta and Garcia perform their respective roles as the Bride and the seductive Leonardo well regarding the circumstances. Particular praise must be given to Mariana Cordero, the Bride’s mother in-law, who adds weight to an otherwise thankless role. Shigeru Umebayashi’s soundtrack creates the poetic ambience within the Spanish wasteland that Oritz was aiming for, echoing the composer’s earlier work in House of Flying Daggers. Migue Amodeo’s cinematography enhances the beauty and barrenness of Ortiz’s western wasteland, yet the dichotomy in cinematic flair between the film’s grand aesthetic and the subpar sum of its parts only further exacerbates The Bride’s shortcomings.
Whilst it is easy to compare The Bride’s aesthetic to Lawrence of Arabia, with its desert landscapes and stunning imagery, or to any conventional Western revenge tale, it’s a closer relation to Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show: a fellow tale of three young people discovering their sexuality in a desolate backdrop. Yet whereas The Last Picture Show examined the intricacies and complexities of human relationships, The Bride capitalises on their visual beauty. One can only feel that Oritz’s piece would be better suited as a thirty second Dior perfume advertisement, than a ninety minute melodrama.