We reunited the actress with Manuel Gómez Pereira, the director, on the 25th anniversary of the comedy’s premiere.
The curtain rises (made of steel due to the script’s demands –they arrive on the set by elevator–) and a great actress (inhabiting a small body) and whoever was its director in a good handful of films enter the scene in lively conversation, including the that occupies us. It has been more than a year since Ana Belén (Madrid, 1951) and Manuel Gómez Pereira (Madrid, 1953) have not seen each other, pandemic through, and they cannot (and do not want to) hide their emotion. Since they make an appearance, the confidences become the third character in the session. They have spoken on the phone “because I haven’t stopped doing a review for friends all this time, right, Manolo? But of course, seeing each other, being able to touch each other, is not the same ”. Thus, FOTOGRAMAS sets the time machine in motion and travels with the author and his muse 25 years ago, when the diva Diana Balaguer and her long-suffering lover of manipulable will, Santi (Juanjo Puigcorbé), demonstrated with their peculiar romance that Love seriously harms health.
The good star
“How? How many years do you say have passed since that? ” Question between scandalized and mischievous Ana Belén, like someone who does not want to be reminded of what she already brings known. “It seems incredible, forever ago. However, Love … was always ‘touched’ in a good way, it is a great film that has aged perfectly, in the same way that its leitmotif has done ”, The Beatles (los be-at-les , as the brilliant Gabino Diego literally repeats when his alter ego Juanjo Puigcorbé returns to the past). “I confess that I never look for myself, I don’t like to watch my movies. Sometimes when I meet by chance, I get tremendous scares. This is not the case. Love seriously harms health I found her recently zapping on a platform, and I really liked seeing myself. It’s fantastic, and we had such a great time doing it! Juanjo is very top ”.
Manuel did not want to review it before the reunion, but refers to the same feeling: “The memory I have is wonderful, I am excited to talk about it again and it is very easy for me to go back to the 90s, when we shot it. Those locations in the luxury hotel Crillon in Paris (it was a French co-production), the Ritz and the Palace in Madrid, that suite that cost a thousand pesetas, the kit that Prince Charles of England wore at the final reception, which had even a light to give greater prominence to his immense protruding ears … It was all very fun, a show ”.
First thing is before
The most successful of Gómez Pereira’s comedies had a non-negotiable muse: “My bets were always Ana and Juanjo. Either it was them, or there was no movie. My way of working starts with the actor, and then the rest comes. When you have someone in mind it is easier to write the script for him and not the other way around. I work like this, and that is why the first thing I do is go find the ‘yes’ to begin with. In the 90s there was hardly the figure of the casting director, which is something very American that has come to us later, and it was the director himself who was in charge of choosing the main actors ”, explains the filmmaker (and co-writer, and co-producer). A working method that the actress confirms: “I was on tour with La bella Helena in Valencia (performance that earned her a Fotogramas de Plata), and Manolo came to see me with Joaquín Oristrell (co-writer and co-producer). They didn’t bring any paper, they came to tell me about the movie. When they had my ‘yes’ they began to shape it. Back from the tour and in Madrid, they handed me the script. I was blown away. The cinema of the last century was made in a different way, perhaps more hand-to-hand ”, although the truth is that Manuel played with a certain advantage because he had already worked with Ana Belén. “I trusted him blindly and he trusted me. We had met in La corte del faraón (José Luis García Sánchez, 1985), when Manolo was assistant director. Then we looked for each other to work together, but it was impossible … until love arrived …, almost 12 years later, ”the actress clarifies. To round off expectations, the director’s next step was to find those who would replicate the leading couple as a youth, in the film’s long flashback that begins in 1965, with the Beatles’ visit to Madrid. “Then Penelope Cruz and Gabino Diego arrived, they bear wonderfully the weight of contextualizing this story of encounters and disagreements” that the protagonist perfectly sums up in one of his thousand confrontations with Diana Balaguer: ‘We are not made for each other ; we are made against each other, my dear. ‘
Gómez Pereira’s fifth feature film, specialized in comedies and also in endless titles, found this by chance while the four screenwriters (himself, Oristrell, Yolanda García Serrano and Juan Luis Iborra), regular collaborators (Why do they call it love when they want say sex ?, Pink sauce), they agreed on ideas in a hotel in Barcelona. “Someone put a pack of cigarettes on the table and, reading the warning sign, it occurred to us to turn it over. Love … comes from several stories that could not be, that did not come out ahead, and it seemed like the perfect title “.
Love seriously harms health filled the theaters with good humor when in our cinema there were no terms like feel-good movie, and through it paraded (by the work and grace of Gómez Pereira) a Fernando Colomo dressed as a maître d ‘, a Javier Bardem a nurse ( to whom Penelope Cruz, whims of fate, snatches a basket of flowers with which to celebrate the birth of Prince Felipe) or an incisive mother-in-law, Lola Herrera. After the evocative session, in which Manuel and Ana Belén have shown unquestionable complicity and plenty of tables (on which the actress has danced and sung to the beat of the flamingos Lole and Manuel), they close this revival with the improvised staging between both from the final moment of the film in which Diana Balaguer manages to capture the attention of Prince Charles of England and whispers: ‘My name is Diana, but you can call me Di’.