Entertainment » Movies

Carmen & Lola

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Oct 14, 2019
'Carmen & Lola'
'Carmen & Lola'  

Spanish filmmaker Arantxa Echevarría feature directing debut, "Carmen and Lola," was the first Spanish film selected to play in the Directors' Fortnight of the Cannes Festival. This tale of forbidden teenage love would go on to pick up several awards on the film festival circuit.

"Carmen & Lola" is the story of two teenage Gypsy (Romany) girls who have grown up in a very traditional and ultra-conservative gypsy community in Madrid.  Carmen (Rosy Rodríguez) is a 17-year-old high school dropout who has a half-hearted ambition to be a hairdresser; really, though, she is just desperate to get married. 16-year-old Lola (Zaira Romero), on the other hand, a street graphic artist on the sly, wants to be a teacher and break away from the restrictive demands of her culture. She is also a closeted lesbian.

Both girls are expected to help at their fathers' market stalls, and this is where they first meet and have an immediate attraction to each other. In this tight-knit community it seems like everyone is also somehow related to each other, and  Carmen's fiancé Rafa (Juan José Jiménez) is also Lola's cousin, and so they meet again, albeit slightly unhappily, ay Carmen's extravagant engagement party.

The two girls  are soon responding to their mutual attraction, sneaking out together to have a cigarette and a kiss or two. Although Carmen fights her burgeoning desire, Lola is determined to win her, no matter what it takes.

However, in this patriarchal society their fathers' word is law, and they all demand that their daughters marry within the gypsy community whilst they are still teenagers. To that end, their fathers literally throw them at potential suitors. Lola's father flies into violent rages over the fact that his daughter attends school, so she knows that the mere idea of her sexuality becoming public knowledge could subject her to life-threatening physical attacks 

Echevarría's chilling insight into a culture where women are only seen as child-bearing chattels and unpaid workers in the family business is eye-opening to anyone who thought that was a thing of the past (in European countries, at least).  And by using a cast of mainly unprofessional actors, she adds authenticity to this heartbreaking tale of inbred and unshakeable homophobia. 

The fact that many of the parents are completely illiterate is still not a valid reason to force their children to supress their sexulaity, especially as, in reality, not all of them will possess the survival instincts of Carmena and Lola.

Carmen & Lola

There is much excitement within a gypsy community in the suburbs of Madrid as beautiful teenager Carmen prepares for her wedding. Yet Carmen finds herself becoming increasingly conscious that she is just following the traditions and expectations dictated by her forbears and starts to question whether children and subservience are what she wants. Her sense of disquiet is heightened and encouraged when she meets Lola, a sensitive artist who is about to go to university. Featuring great performances from its non-professional cast, Arantxa Echevarría's debut feature is a bold and vibrant love story packed with joyous, emotional delights.


Runtime :: 103 mins
Release Date :: Jan 01, 2018
Country :: Spain


Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.

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