Solo con tu pareja
November 8, 2006
Alfonso Cuaron’s Solo con tu pareja (1991) was actually made in 1990 with state funding but was shelved by the government before finally being released in Mexico in 1991, becoming a minor commercial and critical success. Its North American debut was at the Toronto Film Festival and caught the notice of Hollywood where Cuaron made his next two movies, A Little Princess (1995) and Great Expectations (1998) but they lacked the personal, intimate touch of Solo con tu pareja and Y tu mama tambien (2001). This is because both of these films were written by Cuaron’s brother Carlos.
Tomas (Gimenez Cacho) is a self-absorbed lady’s man who is so confident of himself that he runs down several flights of stairs in his apartment building naked and then back up again without getting caught. It’s a scene that speaks volumes about his character. His friends invite him to a wedding where he ends up having sex with the bride. They call him on his offensive behaviour and tell him that he’s got to change his ways.
Yet, Tomas maintains his womanizing ways, juggling two dates at the same time. He’s a schemer and the film delights in showing how ridiculous he is by putting him in a series of farcical situations including his simultaneous dates where he fakes pains so that he can go to the next woman an apartment away. As the dates progress, he has a harder time maintaining the ruse until, at one point, he finds himself climbing along the outside of the building with nothing but a towel on.
However, when one of the women, his boss Gloria (Benet), finds out about what happened, she fires him. When the other woman finds out, a nurse named Silvia (Liubomirova), she alters his HIV test so that it reads positive instead of negative. This throws a spanner into the works of a future conquest for Tomas – a beautiful young flight attendant named Clarisa (Ramirez) whom he loves from afar. He sees her as his chance at redemption from a debauched lifestyle. The only obstacle is his positive HIV test. When Tomas first finds out, he’s in shock and disbelief, then outrage and then acceptance followed by depression. He even tries to kill himself but his mother calls.
He tries again by sticking his head in a microwave oven but is interrupted by Clarisa. However, when she finds her boyfriend cheating on her, again, she and Tomas decide to take drastic action as the film races to its climax. Solo con tu pareja is an entertaining sex face but it is hard to feel sympathetic for Tomas because he is too much of an irredeemable cad. Clarisa does humanize him somewhat and they have a poignant moment together but it lacks the emotional resonance of his later film, Y tu mama tambien.
“Making Solo con tu pareja” is a retrospective featurette. Alfonso Cuaron and his brother Carlos came from a middle class family in Mexico. Cuaron had always wanted to make movies and saw The Bicycle Thief (1948) at an early age and it had a big impact – he was captivated by its neo-realism. Cuaron talks about how he got into the film industry and eventually started making his own movies. He wanted to do a comedy that mixed the sensibilities of Blake Edwards and Ernest Lubitsch. This is excellent look at the movie that touches upon various aspects including casting (with Daniel Gimenez Cacho being interviewed) and the production itself.
Also included are two short films, one made by Cuaron – “Quartet for the End of Time” (1983) about an isolated young man in his apartment – and one made by Carlos – “Wedding Night” (2000) about a recently married couple bursting in on a pair of lovers having sex in their hotel room.
Finally, there is a theatrical trailer.