- Women alone (1999)Thanks to audience response, Benito Zambrano's modestly budgeted Solas was the surprise box-office hit of 1999 and went on to win several Goyas, in competition with Pedro Almodóvar's Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother, 1999), no less. In spite of low production values, no stars, and a plot that provided few thrills, audiences soon found themselves empathizing strongly with the story and the performances.It tells the story of two women, a mother and daughter (played by Maria Galiana and Ana Fernández, respectively), as they meet life's challenges in contemporary Seville. The mother, who lives in a small village, is in town to take care of her husband, who has been interned in a hospital. The daughter is a cleaner who lives on her own, in an untidy flat. She drinks and is finding it difficult to keep jobs. One of the main narrative themes focuses on their difficulties in dealing with violent men: they are both on their own as their men are insensitive and harsh. Although at first the daughter is reluctant to share any confidences with her mother, the film follows their developing relationship as she realizes she has a lot in common with her. Another thread has the mother movingly bonding with a lonely neighbor who is a widower and starting something that, for someone belonging to another generation, could have developed into an affair.Visually, Zambrano chose gritty realism, dwelling on unattractive surfaces and atmospheres, never glamorized, in reference to neorealist approaches. It was produced by independent Maestranza Films, with substantial financial support from the Andalusian government. The film touched a raw nerve in many spectators, particularly those who had family in rural Spain and had similar experiences to those of the protagonist.
Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.