Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake [Pan de limón con semillas de amapola] — Moro Spanish Film Festival 2022

Review by John P. Harvey.

Marina (Elia Galera) is an obstetrician and gynaecologist who for years has been working with the poor in Africa.  She shares her life with fellow doctor Mathias (Tommy Schlesser), although their work often separates them.

Soon after delivering a baby girl whose mother was too ill to survive, Marina receives word that she and her sister, Anna (Eva Martín), have inherited a bakery from somebody neither sister has ever heard of, obliging Marina to travel to the village of Valldemossa in Majorca to finalise the sale of the property.  Marina will be seeing Anna for the first time in the fifteen years since their parents sent Marina away to boarding school, keeping Anna at home with them and estranging the sisters.

When Marina arrives, the sisters visit the bakery, now run by Catalina (Claudia Faci).  Catalina refuses to provide answers about the former owner or why she made the bequest.  Marina begins to wonder about selling the bakery, wanting to know more before going ahead.  But Anna’s husband, Armando (Pere Arquillué), wants a quick sale, no questions asked.

Meanwhile, Marina has been befriended by Ursula (Marilú Marini), the owner of the hotel where she has put up, and with her wisdom and the support of Anna’s daughter, Anita (Mariona Pagès), is spurred to follow her heart and to discover secrets long hidden from her.

Elia Galera as Marina conveys her character’s conflicting desires and frustrations with convincing subtlety; Eva Martin beautifully evinces Anna’s own fears and anxieties; and Marilú Marini’s Catalina’s intransigence is almost palpable in her determination to keep secrets safe.  As the five women embrace a combination of unconquerable optimism and a newfound desire to make the best of life, Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake movingly closes through a sequence of long-awaited revelations and resolutions that leave the viewer satisfied if a little torn.

Screening at Palace cinemas.

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