' ' Cinema Romantico: Friday's Old Fashioned: Stress is Three (1968)

Friday, April 21, 2023

Friday's Old Fashioned: Stress is Three (1968)

Carlos Saura’s “Stress is Three” opens with the married Fernando (Fernando Cebrián) and Teresa (Geraldine Chaplin) and their playboy pal Antonio (Juan Luis Galiardo) speeding from Madrid to Almeria coast, ostensibly for a weekend getaway though metaphorically they are pointed straight into the heart of darkness, foreshadowed in a car crash they suddenly happen upon and just as suddenly move on from, that would seem a violent dream if not for the blood very much still there on Teresa’s dress. The docudrama sensation that Saura imbues the car crash sequence with also evokes the movie’s overriding air, very much akin to a National Geographic special for people, behavior speaking volumes, like Teresa putting out the cigarette Fernando gives to her as a sign of marital disaffection and the motorcycle joyride Fernando takes midway through the movie shining a harsh, even hilarious light on so much macho posturing. Indeed, the movie turns on Fernando’s suspicions that his wife is having an affair with Antonio, spying on them from afar and up close, portrayed in voyeuristic shots through a telescope, a window, a crack in the door, cutting the figure of a pitiful peeping tom in his own life. That Teresa is never quite her own person makes sense, because even if she’s almost always on screen, the point-of-view essentially comes to reflect Fernando’s possessiveness more and more, possessiveness if not outright madness, culminating in grandly bleak visions of masculine persecution complex, before abruptly transitioning right back to bleak reality, as if paranoia is just the addled everyday state of the male mind.

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