Mad Love is the tale of Joan, a princess whose passionate
love for Archduke Philip raises questions as to the competency
of her sanity. This Spanish feature tries to bring about a
piece of lesser known royalty history and present it through
an accurate portrayal of the era, not unlike Elizabeth
or Queen Margot. The story begins not long after
Queen Isabella of Spain sends Columbus to the new world. Her
daughter, Joan, is offered up in a marriage of political advantage
with Philip. Their marriage begins with a lot of passion,
but as time carries on, Joan becomes aware of Philip's unfaithfulness.
Once Queen Isabella passes, Joan becomes the new queen of
Spain. During her time as queen, word of her mad rants of
passion and erratic behavior follow her and begin to become
evident as she finds that her husband is still finding other
women to sleep with. At the advice of his advisors, Philip
attempts to have Joan declared insane and take the throne
In her first film, Pilar Lopez de Ayala is amazing as Joan.
She covers a wide range of emotions and plays the balance
between impassioned and faltering sanity well. It's obvious
that the director wants to portray her character almost ambiguous
as to whether she was truly mad or just very emotional and
passionate about her love for Philip, a man who never cared
much for her other than as a means to satiate his sexual desire.
Sets and costuming are exceptional and capture the look of
the location and time period. A lot of care has been taken
to represent the 15th - 16th century Spain well and it shows
in the final product. The musical score is well done and captures
a different emotional range than other timepiece films.
Foreign film purists will be pleased that the Spanish film
is not dubbed, but comes with both English and French subtitles.
Fortunately, the script is paced well, so even subtitle newbies
can enjoy the story without much catching up.
Historical purists will probably be less pleased. A number
of liberties seem to have been taken with the story for the
sake of creating this historical love story. While many historians
may tell you that Joan was indeed insane, a lot of the storytelling
leaves it ambiguous for the sake of giving the viewer something
of more interest.
On top of some historical liberties, the story's complete
focus on Joan and Philip leaves the viewer feeling secluded
from the rest of the world that they live in. When the story
makes mention of the people Joan rules, one wonders who the
heck has been ruling her country while Joan's been dealing
with her husband. I think some effort to show more of the
direct effect of Joan's rule on her kingdom would have helped
diffuse the almost singular focus of the story.
With having said that, Mad Love is still a pretty
good timepiece that places the spotlight on a character in
history that the rest of the filmmaking world seems to have