Gaudi Afternoon | Chicago Reader

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Like her big hit, Desperately Seeking Susan, this entertaining 2001 release by director Susan Seidelman finds a dissatisfied woman drawn out of her dull existence into a whimsical adventure that's part whodunit and part screwball comedy. Martini-dry Judy Davis plays an American expat in Barcelona who makes a living of sorts translating literature; hired by an exotic San Franciscan (Marcia Gay Harden) to find her missing gay husband, the translator becomes entangled in a world of sexual intrigue in which nothing is as it seems. Based on a novel by Barbara Wilson, the screenplay by James Myrhe and Joaquin Oristrell leans heavily on voice-over by Davis; the film would have been better had its makers trusted in the tale's ambiguities and the quirky performances (including the lovely preteen actress Courtney Jines as a missing child and Lili Taylor and Juliette Lewis as a butch-femme lesbian couple). Yet the lush, hallucinatory main titles give way to spectacular footage of beautiful Barcelona—winding mazelike alleys, sprawling sun-drenched plazas, and fantastical vistas designed by art nouveau architect Antonio Gaudi. 93 min.

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