By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
The title might sound funny and peculiar, but I can guarantee that audiences will be amused, intrigued and enamored with Julita Salmerón. As a child growing up in Spain, Julita had wild-eyed dreams of having lots of children, owning a pet monkey, and living in a beautiful castle. And though a couple of these dreams/life goals sound lofty, Julita and her husband made them come true. As fun and exciting as these lavish dreams are, eventually reality hits home and the Salmerón family will have to adjust accordingly. Spanish actor Gustavo Salmerón directs this poignant and loving tribute to his idiosyncratic mother, a woman who dreamed big and who has a larger-than-life personality to match.
The film introduces Julita and the Salmerón family by mixing interviews with the parents and some of their children with some candid moments at the castle and with multiple home movies shot during the children’s younger years. Julita makes for a very lovable subject, but one that often bewilders. She is a tough, but caring mother who has experienced a lot in her life and someone who treasures all of her life experiences–both the good and bad. Thus, Julita is a major hoarder, saving tons upon tons of mementos from her parents and her early life to multiple treasures from her children. Sadly, real world problems often deal people a bad hand, and an economic crisis forces the Salmerón family to downsize in a massive way. This proves to be a very bitter pill for Julita to swallow.
I have to say that I absolutely adored this film. As eccentric and vexing as Julita can be, she really is an exceptional personality who came from such humble beginnings that she dreamed extravagantly. It is poignant, but almost expected when these dreams come to an end. Gustavo Salmerón obviously has much love for his mother, but he isn’t afraid to view her extravagant whims, and her insane amount of hoarding with critical eyes. The actor makes his directorial debut with this lovely feature documentary film. I am unfamiliar with his work as an actor, but am impressed with his skills behind the camera.
His film has already garnered some accolades and acclaim, including the Spanish Film Academy’s Goya Award for Best Documentary, and Best Documentary at both the Hamptons Film Festival & Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. It is opening in NYC on 12/14 at the Cinema Village. It is a film I highly recommend.