Only Mine (Sólo Mía) Made in: Spain Language: Spanish Director: Javier Belaguer Starring: Paz Vega, Sergi Lopez, Elvira Mínguez Year: 2001
Synopsis: Paz Vega plays Angela, a young woman who marries Joaquín (Sergi Lopez) a charming, ambitious creative executive who works in an advertising firm. At first, everything's great. He's attentive, witty, and loving. But then, things start going to hell after their first daughter is born.
Joaquín starts becoming obsessed with work. And at home, he becomes a possessive, manipulative, and physically violent doofus. Having received too many bruises and black eyes, Angela tries to leave him. But with a daughter tying her to Joaquín, who begins stalking her, and a legal system that appears largely ineffective against cases of domestic abuse, she finds herself putting matters into her own hands.
The Good: Only Mine is structured in an interesting way. Parts of the story are told out of sequence, thereby making it less predictable. The opening shot is powerful, and definitely drew me in.
Paz Vega and Sergi Lopez do a great job playing a couple in a crumbling marriage. Lopez, who's frequently cast as a villain, is very convincing as a manipulator and abuser. And Paz Vega's character, whom we're meant to sympathize with, is made more authentic by having flaws and problems of her own.
We get the sense that Angela is truly in danger, and we really care about what happens to her. And director Javier Belaguer is deft at making the smaller details of Joaquín's behavior (a brief remark, a minor but thoughtless action) bring out the full scope of his mental state.
The Bad: Although it's a realistic and realistic portrayal of domestic abuse, Only Mine is little more than a sequence of events. Joaquín's behavior, as despicable and scary as it is, simply goes on and on after a while. The initial shock of his abuse loses its effect, and from a strict filmmaking standpoint, becomes tedious and excessive. The audience will not need so many reminders that the guy is a monster.
The point of the film is social commentary and the legal nightmare of dealing with courts. And in doing so, the act of telling a story takes a backseat. I'm not saying that a movie about domestic abuse should be entertaining and fun for the whole family, but presenting the subject matter within a coherent plotline could have made the film more effective.
As it is, however, the film may be sad and disturbing, but I can't say it does much to inspire people to take action.
Who would like this movie: Only Mine is for you if you have an interest in social problems such as domestic abuse. You don't have to be a fan of foreign films to get a grasp on the subject matter, since the issues it raises (unfortunately) exist in other countries as well.
But bear in mind that the film doesn't do much to offer solutions, and assumes the problem can only be solved legally. Strangely enough, some of the most productive discussion about domestic violence may be through examining this movie's flaws.