As “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” proved last year, it’s still unusual to see frank depictions of senior female sexuality in films, especially portrayed in a positive light. In director Patricia Ortega‘s very abstract and quite funny “Mamacruz,” she continues to break down barriers in a celebration of all things carnal with a story about a grandma who is not only rediscovering her own body, but becoming freely comfortable in her own wrinkled skin.
Devoutly religious Cruz (Kiti Mánver) is stuck in a passionless, routine life. With her adult daughter away chasing her dream of becoming a dancer, Cruz takes care of her granddaughter as well as her ailing husband. While exploring the internet one night, Cruz accidentally clicks on a link that takes her to an online pornography site. This mishap not only sparks her curiosity, but ignites a passion that has been dormant for far too long.
A film that normalizes the sexual awakening of a 70-year-old woman may sound taboo, but it shouldn’t. That’s why films like this are an important step forward in how society dictates what is and isn’t okay to talk about when it comes to age-appropriate sexual desires. As Cruz begins to shed the years of religious oppression and society’s suppression of her own desires, the film explores more complex themes with satirical wit and refreshing honesty.
Mánver gives a great lead performance as the title character, and she portrays Cruz with a tender warmth that makes her eventual narrative breakthrough so rewarding. There’s just enough cheeky humor to keep the more sacreligious aspects of the film endearing (like a very funny sexual fantasy with a statue of Jesus), and you can’t help but cheer for Cruz when she takes the big step of joining a women’s sex therapy group.
Ortega’s storytelling is slow and pensive, and the film isn’t a straight, traditional comedy (although the plot could’ve easily been made into a wacky one). “Mamacruz” is an endearing story of how a grandmother’s discovery of online porn teaches her to love herself as well as life in general.
By: Louisa Moore