Barranco, María


Barranco, María
(1961- )
   María Barranco's hilarious Candela, a supporting character in Pedro Almodóvar's Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, 1988), was an overnight sensation among audiences. She played a tense, naive, talkative model from Andalucía who had been led astray by a group of terrorists and was in trouble with the police. The combination of sexiness and innocence proved irresistible. It is one of the great comedy performances in Spanish cinema, and it made Barranco, who had interrupted her studies of medicine to turn to acting, into a hugely popular actress. Although she continued to exploit her Andalusian accent and her Candela persona (in, for instance, in Las cosas del querer [ Jaime Chávarri, The Things of Love, 1989 ] and Rosa Rosae, Fernando Colomo, 1993), very early on she showed signs of being a very committed, versatile performer who could take on a range of roles, and who could project pain, wit, and sensitivity.
   Barranco chose her projects wisely throughout the 1990s, punctuated with her collaborations with her long-term partner Imanol Uribe (who appeared briefly next to her in Almodóvar's film as a bridegroom). She took supporting roles in Bigas Luna's Las edades de Lulú (The Ages of Lulu, 1990) as a transsexual prostitute and again in a popular register as the maid to a high-class prostitute, in Uribe's costume film El rey pasmado (The Baffled King, 1991). Her greatest part of the decade was Azucena in Enrique Urbizu's Todo por la pasta (Everything for the Dough, 1991), where she played a nervous striptease dancer who gets involved in a murky robbery and murder plot and becomes friends with ruthless manager Kitti Manver. Barranco's comic persona was crucial to balancing the thriller and comedy aspects of the film: she was intent on getting the money, but at the same time fearful and needing the support offered by her friend. Her central role in Bwana (Imanol Uribe, 1996), as the wife of a taxi driver who is forced to reconsider her racist prejudices, remains her best work. As the film progresses, audiences can see her fear of the black man the couple meets on a beach turn into sympathy.
   In spite of substantial appearances in art films like Julio Medem's La ardilla roja (The Red Squirrel, 1993), comedy remained the genre in which she was most comfortable. She starred in Urbizu's Cuernos de mujer (1995), in Joaquín Oristrell's Novios (Fiancées, 1999), and in Fernando Colomo's El efecto mariposa (1995), and she had important supporting roles in Manuel Gómez Pereira's Boca a boca (Mouth to Mouth, 1995), in the international Tardes de Gaudi / Gaudy Afternoon (Susan Seidelman, 2001), and in El oro de Moscú (Moscow Gold, Jesús Bonilla, 2003). Her pace has slowed in recent years, and she has turned to television sitcoms. Her best film performances of the period were in El viaje de Carol (Carol's Journey, Imanol Uribe, 2002), the disturbed wife in Tiempo de tormenta (Stormy Weather, Pedro Olea, 2003), and in El carnaval de Sodoma (Sodom Carnival, Arturo Ripstein, 2006).

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.

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  • Barranco, María — (1961 )    María Barranco s hilarious Candela, a supporting character in Pedro Almodóvar s Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, 1988), was an overnight sensation among audiences. She played a tense …   Guide to cinema

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