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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Directed by Jose Luis Garci
Miramax 10/99 DVD/VHS Feature Film
In China when a person reaches the age of retirement, he dons a red vest, which is meant to be a badge of honor. An elder is free to act more in accordance with his heart than his head. Old age is a time to build bridges and open new doors. This Spanish drama is about this stage of life. Directed by Jose Luis Garci, it was a 1999 Oscar nominee in the category of foreign language film.
The story is set in Spain at the turn of the century. The aged Count of Albrit (Fernando Fernan-Gomez) returns home after losing his fortune in Peru. His strained relationship with Lucrecia Richmond (Cayetana Guillen Cuervo), his daughter-in-law, stems from his knowledge of her affair with a French painter. The Count's mission is to discover which of his two granddaughters is his heiress.
Although this once powerful and still proud patriarch dons no red vest, he finds it hard to deal with the shameful and humiliating treatment he receives from the townsfolk. As his ego is battered, he slowly mellows. This process unfolds in a friendship with Pio Coronado (Rafael Alonso), an old teacher who has serious thoughts about suicide.
In the final stage of his life, the Count learns a thing or two about time, love, friendship, and blood ties. He is free at last to give in to the impulses of his heart.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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