Piedras -“ Stones in English -“ is the feature debut of Spanish director Ramon Salazar. The film was nominated for the Golden Bear at Berlin and Salazar has gathered some of Spain’s best known actresses, Antonia San Juan, Angela Molina, Victoria Pe?Monica Cervera and Najwa Nimri, to appear in the film. Piedras has been referred to as a sort of Spanish Magnolia, with Natalie Merchant providing the music instead of Aimee Mann.

We never find out during the film why it is called Piedras. The production notes tell a story about Salazar referring to the stones that get in our way during life as the reason for the title -“ more than a little obscure! The story revolves around five interconnected women, and a small gay sub-theme relationship between two men.

The film is at least a half hour too long and the gimmick about the shoes, introduced in the beginning as a way of describing the characters, is not sustained. Antonia San Juan, favoured by Almodovar, is wonderful as the madam. Angela Molina is deprived of a meaty role but is elegant as the long suffering wife. The ending is a bit too Holly-wood but Piedras is light entertainment particularly for lovers of Spanish film. It just isn’t nearly as good as Magnolia.

Piedras will screen at the State Theatre during the 49th Sydney Film Festival.

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