Ugliest Woman in the World (The) AKA La Mujer más fea del mundo (1999)
R0 - United Kingdom - Nucleus Films
Review written by and copyright: Jari Kovalainen (12th November 2005).
The Film

What will you have, when you set a film in the year 2011? Will you have a “Miss Spain” beauty pageant, deformed woman, and a murder where the murderer was dressed like a nun? Add a one-eyed detective, a strange plastic surgeon, more murders, and you have a Spanish film by director Miguel Bardem called “The Ugliest Woman in the World”.

As already hinted, the violent murder of the old woman happens at New Year´s Eve, 2010. Lieutenant Arribas (Roberto Álvarez) and his detective team arrive on the scene, and start investigating the case. Elsewhere, the beautiful Lola Otero (Elia Galera) is introduced, with some dark secrets starting from her childhood. It doesn´t take long before detectives notice that this recent murder could be just one of many, and several traces lead to the plastic surgeon Dr. Werner (Héctor Alterio). He tells the story of “the ugliest woman in the world” who then became “the most beautiful woman in the world”, with his help and his “genetic manipulation” and serum. That woman is Lola Otero, and she has some serious issues towards the former and upcoming “Miss Spain”-winners…

“The Ugliest Woman in the World” is an ambitious film, which mixes futuristic elements, fantasy, suspense and humour. This combination holds up quite well for a while, but it doesn´t last through the whole movie and for me the ending was a bit of a disappointment. Director Bardem says in the “Making of” –featurette, that they wanted to make a “groundbreaking film”. This is probably true, but maybe that goal was just too ambitious to reach, since the script didn´t have all the qualities to make the film truly “groundbreaking”. One problem also is, that although the film has some humour, it´s not really a comedy, it has some suspense, but it´s not really a thriller, it has some Sci-Fi, but it´s not like “Blade Runner”, etc. I guess personally I prefer movies where they don´t combine that many different film genres, but I assume that many people might find this exciting.

Still, the film is a visual treat and it´s entertaining most of the time and in many ways a “fresh” approach to filmmaking. It probably also includes a few messages about the people generally and their endless desire to be beautiful and look young. You can also find some satire in some of the scenes, and e.g. the scene where a bunch of police rush into the apartment (like SWAT-team) plays like a satire of the Hollywood action-movies. Lieutenant Arribas has also a “sidekick” detective, which brings some additional humour into the film (another way to make satire of the US-films perhaps?). The film also uses several flashbacks (right from the start) and sometimes goes back and forth between the two time periods (mainly to unravel the story of Lola Otero), which works quite well for the movie.

Actors do a good job with the film, and Miguel Bardem, Elia Galera, and Héctor Alterio are clearly the main actors in the film, others being more in the background. Cinematography and art direction are also at a good level, and although there is not that much of over-futuristic settings, there are many nice details that tell you that you´re in the year 2011 (i.e. in the future).

Video

“Nucleus Films” have provided us with an Anamorphic 1.78:1 –transfer, which is quite good. Transfer has some softness and black areas tend to “live” a little, so with the larger screens you´ll probably find certain negative “issues” with the transfer. Then again the colors are solid and the print is clean, so I´m sure that many people are quite happy with the presentation. Dual Layer disc is R0, the film runs 103:43 minutes, and it has 14 chapters.

Audio

The disc has two audio options: Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0, which sounded “Mono” to me. Disc also has optional English subtitles. The Dolby Digital 5.1 was generally a good and rather basic soundtrack, where there are surround-activity in certain scenes (noise of the traffic and the city, planes landing, birds singing, etc), and where the main surround-activity comes in a form of music. There are few scenes in the film where you have bumping dance music, and it sounded good in my living room. A few times it sounded like the dialogue was a bit low, and my copy had a few minor “audio clicks” in the 5.1-track (mildly distracting).

Extras

The disc includes a Spanish “Making of” -featurette called “La Mujer más fea del mundo - Asi Se Hizo”, and it runs 16:39 min (it´s in Spanish, with optional English subtitles). It doesn´t exactly reveal anything that special, but it has a few interview-bits by the director and some actors, and there´s also some “behind-the-scenes”-footage. You can tell that they had fun while making the movie, since there is a lot of goofing around (a bit too much I might add, since the style of the interviews is also kinda similar). Photo gallery (3:03 min) is a slideshow, which includes “Publicity”, “Preliminary Designs” and “Production Stills”. The gallery includes several stylish posters for the film, and they look great. Spanish teaser (1:12 min), trailer (1:29 min) and TV-spot (0:19 sec) are included, with optional English subtitles. Finally, we have 2 bonus trailers of other releases by “Nucleus Films”: “Between Your Legs AKA Entre Las Piernas” (already out) and “Gwendoline” (which also has a brief text introduction).

Overall

“The Ugliest Woman in the World” is a recommended film to those people, who are open minded, like different European filmmaking, fantasy and mystery. By combining many different elements it offers something for many different viewers, but then again it could also be a disappointing film because of that.

For more info, please visit the homepage of Nucleus Films.

The Film: Video: Audio: Extras: Overall:

 


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