Culture / Film

Review: “The Gilded Cage” @ Glasgow Film Festival

Part of the strand “Eurovisions” showing at the 10th Glasgow Film Festival, the French-Portuguese comedy “The Gilded Cage” is a pleasant surprise that will entertain and connect to audiences around the world.

Set in Paris, the film tells the untold story of Portuguese immigrants that flew out of Portugal during the dictatorship period of the 60’s and 70’s to live in France.  It focusses on how they managed to interact and blend with another culture even if deep down they remain very different from each other.

The story follows a Portuguese family of immigrants in France that discovered that they inherited a winery in Portugal. Jose, the husband, is a handy man and his wife Maria, is a concierge in a typical Parisian lodge. When their friends, family and employees discover their plans to move back to Portugal, an incredible and comic mission to keep them begins.

This light-hearted, witty and hilarious tale touches with featherlight hands on very current issues of immigration and prejudice without being engaged in political movements or pedantic, preachy messages. There are Almodovar elements to this film (dark humour; sarcasm and an exaggeration of the character’s personalities), an almost soap opera feel to it. However the film succeeds brilliantly on its satirical portrait of clichés.

The director, Ruben Alves, stars in the film and also wrote the script.  It loosely references his own personal experiences, a semi autobiographical work that was dedicated to his parents who were Portuguese immigrants in France. The cast deliver amusing scenes where the comedy timing is perfect and the situations created guarantee lots of laughter. The soundtrack wraps up the warm feel of the film showcasing traditional Portuguese music that is attached to the roots of a nation.

The Gilded Cage” won the “People’s Choice Award” for best film at the 26th European Film Awards. Its screening at the Glasgow Film Festival had a full house and taking by the audience’s ovation at the end of the film and the lovely smiles left on the cinema goers faces, this captivating and heartfelt family comedy had confirmed its popularity and charisma. A must see!

Interview with director Ruben Alves 

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Actor, director and writer, Ruben Alves, 34, was born in Paris and started his acting career at the age of 16. “The Gilded Cage” is his first attempt as a director. He also stars in Jalil Lespert’s “Yves Saint Laurent” that is also showing at the Glasgow Film Festival. Between producers meetings and promotional trips Ruben Alves spoke with The Wee G in an exclusive interview, where he explained the idea behind the film, future projects and why Almodovar comparisons are welcome.

The Wee G: “The Gilded Cage” is a semi autobiographical film largely inspired by yours and your parents experiences. Did they like the film?

Ruben Alves: My parents were very proud. My father cried when he watched the film for the first time. He saw his life in the screen. They didn’t know that I was doing his story, so was a big surprise.

TWGWere you surprised by the public’s positive reaction that the film has been receiving?

RA: I’m very surprised by the sociological way the public was touched. The response has been great and I’m very happy with that.

TWGThere are elements in the film that are very similar to Almodovar films. Do you agree with this comparison?

RA: Yes I feel very proud when people compare to Almodovar. Maybe its because we love our roots, our family and women.

TWGThe cast is amazing. Were you involved with the selection?

RA: The cast is authentic. They are the best Portuguese actors. It was very important to me to create a “family”. They are great actors but more importantly they are great people and I think you can feel that on the film.

TWG: How can people who are not Portuguese or French relate to the film?

RA: I’ve been travelling around the world promoting the film, from Germany to Colombia, from Hong Kong to Australia and Brazil and the public love the film. I think the film can touch anyone because we are all a little bit immigrants. Nowadays we born in a place but we are always moving and the family values are the same everywhere.

TWG: You star in Jalil Lepster’s “Yves Saint Laurent” that is also showing at the Glasgow Film Festival. Tell us about that. 

RA: Yves Saint Laurent is a beautiful film and I’m very proud to be part of it. Unfortunately I’ve never been to Glasgow but I would love to visit.

TWG: What’s next? Any future projects?

RA: At the moment I’m reading an acting project and I’m writing my second film which I will also direct.

Follow Luciano Graca on Twitter: @Lutadeux

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