Directed by Fernando Trueba. Spain. 2017. 128 min. Spanish with English subtitles.
After enjoying a successful career in Hollywood, Spanish actress Macarena Granada (a luminous Penélope Cruz) returns home to play Queen Isabella in an epic period film that has the local media buzzing. Once in Spain, she runs into former friends and colleagues while the film production goes through a roller coaster of emotional scenarios, including the return of a once-famous director, passionate affairs between crew members, and the hovering presence of Franco’s regime. The film is brimming with intriguing historical references, such as a blacklisted American screenwriter (Mandy Patinkin) who, in an apparent nod to Hollywood Ten member Alvah Bessie, is said to have fought with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. The glamorous movie stars, blacklisted writers, campy production designers, fabulous sets, and hunky grips all come together to make movies and snub their noses at Generalissimo Franco. This is a delight from first moment to last—a mixture of affectionate and not-so-affectionate satire that hits its targets dead center.