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Read our massive coverage of Filmfest DC. Then come back to Arts Desk, where we’re reviewing more films, like this one.
Had he been asked to write his own biopic, the playwright Lope de Vega probably would’ve come up with a better climax than the familiar courtroom catharsis that caps off Lope, a swashbuckling, beautifully costumed, mostly satisfying period film from the Brazilian director Andrucha Waddington. The setting is Madrid at the dawn of Spain’s golden age of theater, when Cervantes was the toast of the city’s stages—until a copyist had the stones to rewrite him. Alberto Ammann’s Lope de Vega is good-hearted and hot-headed and utterly driven, and his way with words translates into a way with women. But he’s not exactly a romantic. As he hops from an affair with his patron’s daughter (Pilar López de Ayala) to what seems like a more profound relationship with the fiancée (Leonor Watling) of a rather bellicose marquis and almost back again, you get the sense that Lope could go either way—not because one romance is easier than the other, but because both suggest thrilling dramatic possibilities. De Vega in love, indeed.
The film screens Monday, April 11 at 9 p.m. and Tuesday, April 12 at 9 p.m. Both showings at AMC Mazza Gallerie. $11.