Description from Wikipedia: The Menno Meyjes directed drama stars Adrien Brody as Spanish bullfighter Manolete, in a film that covers his late life love affair with actress Lupe Sino (Penélope Cruz) before he was gored to death in the bull ring. Sino’s communistpolitics turned their affair into a scandal in the early 1940s, especially after discovering her previous marriage to a Stalinist-communist party member.
In some of my commentaries, I have aped the Criterion Collection website’s “three reasons,” and while I could probably come up with three reasons for A Matadore’s Mistress, there’s really only one I truly find compelling–it’s got Penelope Cruz in it. If that’s not enough in itself, I would suggest passing on this one. It’s not that it’s a terrible movie; it’s just a bit too by the numbers. A bit too rushed. For a movie comparing and contrasting the dangerous occupations of love and bullfighting, it plays it safe, and potential plot points and complications that made their affair scandalous in real life (i.e., Lupe’s communist politics) are given barely any significance at all, leaving the audience with forgettable cardboard cutouts in place of people who in real life must have been anything but.
Extra Thoughts That Didn’t Fit In:
Brody, as well as Cruz, is another high point. Conveying strength and vulnerability simultaneously, he does a fine job as the doomed matador vainly trying to control the animals he confronts in the ring as well as his unpredictable mistress.
Cruz is given the best line in the film. Upon being asked by Manolete if she will stay with him, she replies, “Always, just not all the time.”