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film review

Penélope Cruz and Chino Darin in The Queen of Spain

In The Queen of Spain, Penelope Cruz stars as a 1950s glamourpuss returning from Hollywood to Madrid to film an epic period-piece musical about Spain's Queen Isabella. An old flame asks her for a kiss, for the good old days. "What days are those?" she asks.

It's an inside joke, of which there are many in this romping, capering semi-farce of a sequel to Fernando Trueba's The Girl of Your Dreams from 1998. The era here is the Franco-ruled Spain of the 1950s, when the country welcomed the Hollywood crowd.

Trueba, 62, has reassembled a lot of the old cast, most of whom play characters trying to recapture old magic. Make of that what you will. It's fun, involving off-set sexual escapades and a scheme to rescue a back-from-the-dead film director from a work camp. Cruz sings and wears low-cut things. Horses happen. And Mandy Patinkin plays a blacklisted American screenwriter who sits back and doesn't say much as he watches the action unfold with a look of detached amusement on his face. I know just how he feels.

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