The Other Side Of The Bed Review
Pedro (Guillermo Toledo) wakes up one morning to find his girlfriend, Paula (Natalia Verbeke), leaving him for another man. Naturally, he's despondent and swears on all the saints to find her new lover and wring the scumbag's neck. In the meanwhile, he seeks solace from his best friend Javier (Ernesto Alterio) and his gentle partner Sonia (Paz Vega) - unbeknownst to either Sonia or Pedro, Javier is the man who is soon to be in Pedro's metaphorical crosshairs. But can Javier manage to stave him off long enough to break the news less dramatically? Paula in the meanwhile is growing impatient as Javier's promises to leave Sonia fail to materialise. With the added pressure of a jealous ex-lover on her back, she is starting to wonder if she made the right choice.
Though most of Spanish cinema we see in the UK tends to be of the more somber variety (bar the occasional madcap Almodovar effort), The Other Side of the Bed is as light as it could possibly be considering the subject topic. However, people don't just shrug their shoulders and get on with their lives - instead, the director has them sing a happy tune and perform a bizarre dance routine to get it off their chests, for this is a musical as well as a comedy. It was so successful in Spain that it became the third biggest box-office success of all times over there - contrast to here where it received a limited theatrical release last April and didn't really have any impact. It's hard to argue against such success in the film's native country but most viewers will find it hard to get enthused about any aspect of the film. The characters may be quite passionate but it hardly makes them sympathetic. Almodovar can make you care for the most ruthless and unbearable characters yet here we're left wishing for their demise within the first half hour. The song-and-dance routines start out as quite fresh and amusing due to their unpolished choreographies and rough singing technique but after a couple of these have gone by, they begin to seem like much needed padding for a rather thin narrative. Maybe for political correctness, the script has introduced some gay characters but they tend to be treated either as excuses for the odd joke or as a reason for a character to question their own sexuality. Though the director Emilio Martínez Lázaro has often been claimed to be Spain's best hidden secret and this is his best work, I think this is one secret that should just remain undiscovered.
The image and subtitles:
The film has received an 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer that seems to have been made from a relatively clean print. The colour does seem to have an unusual yellowish tint which is not that noticeable on TV screens but stands out quite clearly on a computer monitor. The subtitles are transferred on top of the image in yellow making them clearly visible but it would have been better making them player generated.
Once again the UK release is worse off from the original - whereas the Spanish release featured a 5.1 mix, here we only receive a stereo mix. The mix is quite energetic and clear - the lack of surround isn't really missed as the film is heavily dialogue based and the musical sequences come through quite well in stereo.
Nothing bar a rather inane trailer for the film.
Though I shouldn't really complain with the current slew of Hispanic films being released onto DVD, it is quite strange to see such uninteresting films see any release here whatsoever this side of the channel. Still it's a good sign of sorts though I can't remember having disliked a film as much as this for a long time (but then again I've avoided Catwoman). If this is your scene, this is a decent release that covers the basics decently.