Talk of Angels

Set in Spain during the tumultuous '30s, this adaptation of Kate O'Brien's once scandalous novel centers around lovely Mary Lavelle (Polly Walker), an Irish girl who becomes a governess for an aristocratic Spanish clan. Mary just wants a little fun, but soon she's caught between the Republican and Fascist ideals held by the family patriarch (Franco Nero) and his wife (Marisa Paredes). To complicate matters, their married, Franco-hating son (Vincent Perez) turns out to be one of those smoldering types convent-educated Mary's only dreamt of.

Wartime ardor can bolster a compelling film or embarrass a weak one. Director Nick Hamm has enough material for either; there are some fine performances, striking locations, and genuine urgency in its depiction of civil war. Had he chosen to flesh out the political and class-related intrigues, he could have created a memorable picture. But because the real action becomes mere backdrop for a pair of furtive, chemistry-free lovers, our frustrations bloom right along with theirs.

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