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MOVIE REVIEW

This 'Mother' doesn't know best

When Sofia (Rosa Maria Sarda) introduces her three adult daughters to her girlfriend in the dopey, bourgeois Spanish comedy "My Mother Likes Women," the kids aren't happy. First they break down, then they plot to break up the relationship.

The scheming of Elvira, Sol, and Jimena (Leonor Watling, Silvia Abascal, Maria Pujalte) includes their hitting a gay bar to find someone to come on to Eliska (Eliska Sirova), their mother's young Czech lover. When that fails, Sol, an exhibitionist rock star, tries to put the moves on her. When that fails, Sol and Jimena think the talkative and brainy Elvira would be ideal to seduce Eliska, which is odd given how poor Eliska's Spanish is. But plan C seems to have some effect. Elvira and Eliska go nightclubbing, and one misunderstanding begats another.

Ines Paris and Daniela Fejerman co-

wrote this perky little movie and the story, like the acting, is both acrobatic and absurd. Most of the attention is centered on Elvira, a needy assistant editor at a small Madrid publishing firm. After Sofia breaks the news, Elvira runs to her shrink, terrified that she might catch lesbianism, as though it's a cold. And Elvira's boss tells her that business is going so badly that he'll pay his staff half their salaries. And never mind that he won't read the first draft of her novel. She's so amped-up over all this that she can barely function, scoring the affections of an award-winning novelist (Chisco Amado) only to knock him around in her neurotic spin cycle. "My Mother Likes Women" was released in Spain in 2002, and Watling's pratfalls and overcaffeinated shrieking seem to be making up for having spent most of Pedro Almodovar's "Talk to Her," which also came out that year, in a coma.

Watling typifies this movie's problem: Her charm annoys. Elvira, Sol, and Jimena -- named for women in the life of El Cid -- are so spoiled and blind to their mother's happiness that they're often thoroughly unpleasant. The movie only encourages their suspicion by having their mother, a well-off, well-known concert pianist, blow her savings on Eliska. Then the comedy gets traded for desperate, last-minute melodrama: lies, drunken rants, goodbye letters, public fainting!

Yet as it turns out, all this fretting is over nothing. We do learn, however, that love heals and that the movie's title makes a terrifically lewd little rock song. (Thank you, Sol.) But that's about it.

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com.

My Mother Likes Women
**

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