Perhaps if I knew a little bit more about Amadeo I prior to going into this film, I would have enjoyed it a little bit more. Luis Miñarro’s Stella Cadente, or Falling Star, focuses on the short-lived reign of Amedeo I as the King of Spain. Originally hailing from Italy, Amadeo was elected King of Spain in 1871. Upon his election, his primary backer was assassinated, leaving the foreign king alone to deal with the restlessness of Spain’s government. Falling Star sets up this sequence of events well enough to follow, but soon thereafter dwindles into a slow-paced fictionalization of the difficulties that faced Amadeo I.
No matter how accurate or inaccurate a foreign period drama is, I typically enjoy myself while watching. Falling Star gave me no such pleasure, but I have a really hard time pinpointing why. Everything that bothers me about this film never bothers me in any other film I have seen. Perhaps it is the culmination of multiple faults into a single film that really made this film less enjoyable than it could have been. As with many period dramas, the pacing of the film is rather slow. I expected this, considering that the DVD case advertises the look of an Art House film. While many art films move at a snail’s pace, I am always able to enjoy one aspect of the film, normally the acting or the cinematography.
Neither of these was very present in Falling Star. The digital cinematography was very off-putting for a period piece. I have to say, it is the first time I have ever seen a period drama shot on rather cheap-looking digital video. The visuals in the film are indeed captivating, but the camera used to capture said visuals does not deliver anything near eye candy. In regard to the acting: I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, the amount of dialog in the film does not give the actors adequate room to exercise their craft. Had the dialog been increased, this film probably would have earned a three-star rating by my standards. However, the film’s lack of dialog and its unappealing cinematography make it hard for even an avid consumer of foreign art film to sit through.
Like many art films I have seen, Falling Star has a considerable amount of graphic nudity. There are quite a few sex scenes, ranging from heterosexual, to homosexual, to autoerotic. A character’s penis is shown on screen more so than any sexual act. For example, sex between the King and his mistress is shown, but is censored by blankets. Meanwhile, you see a bizarre uncensored scene in which a man penetrates some sort of melon in a garden. While there is a reason the character does this in the story, the amount of time we spend watching him have intercourse with an inanimate object is something that not a lot of people are willing to sit through.
Although this film is taken to rather interesting degrees of sexual perversion, it leaves you asking more questions than anything. Many scenes seem to depict almost dream-like events in lieu of the King’s hardships in governing a country that is foreign to him. However, I cannot recommend this film to anyone who knows nothing about Amadeo’s brief reign over Spain. The events depicted in this film are, without a doubt, highly fictionalized representations of what took place during his three-year governance. The film has tremendous potential if given a bigger budget and script revisions, but for now it is a slow hour and forty minutes that does not offer much to hold your attention.