Dir: Ventura Pons.Sp-And. 2005. 95mins.

Catalan director Ventura Pons is something of a Berlin fixture: IdiotLove sets a festival record by being the sixth consecutive feature by thedirector to premiere here. It's an original love story, self-deprecatinglyironic but also fizzing with eroticism.

If Italian director NanniMoretti ever decided to take on the subject of sexual obsession, the resultmight be something like this. The film's best feature is the odd couplechemistry of the central relationship between self-confessed idiot Pere-Llucand spiky, controlled downtown-girl-made-good Sandra.

Its major weakness is theoveruse of Pere-Lluc's droll, drawling first-person narrative voiceover -always a difficult technique to get right, this running commentary more thanonce stops being funny and veers into psycho-babble.

But Idiot Love is atender, refreshing and quirky ride, and could just as easily have screened inthe official competition as in its Panorama sidebar slot. It also marks adefinite return to form for Pons after the missed chance of his disappointingEnglish-language debut Food Of Love (2002); although like his 2001charmer Anita Takes A Chance, it is unlikely to break out in more than ahandful of non Spanish-language territories.

Pere-Lluc is 35, and he's anidiot. Not of the Lars von Trier variety: he's not feigning mental disabilityin order to challenge society's assumptions about what is normal. He's just animmature, irresponsible kind of guy who drinks too much, can't hold down arelationship, and (like all self-respecting idiots) gets his penis out atparties and threatens to stab it with a carving fork.

Santi Millan, a well-knownCatalan comic actor, has the right face for the job. He's what Shakespearewould have called a mooncalf: a likeable, self-destructive dreamer, so lost tohimself that he feels that "my life and I are parallel lines on opposite sidesof the street".

Then two things happen toPere-Lluc: his best friend, an Argentinian actor, dies in Buenos Aires, and hewalks into a ladder which belongs to feisty blonde Sandra (Cayetana GuillenCuervo), who runs an advertising banner business.

This is the beginning of anobsession which passes through several distinct phases: first Pere-Lluc is thestalker, spying on the married Sandra, then he becomes her lapdog, allowed toentertain her while she waits for her husband after work; then the sex kicksin: hot, frenetic, and not choosy about the location.

Weeks, or months, into thisphase, it occurs to Pere-Lluc to ask Sandra her name. Then, around the classic75-minute point, comes the setback.

It's the mismatch and theflaws in the characters that make them interesting: Pere-Lluc is amusing butalso totally useless, and about as dynamic as a limp balloon, while hard-headedSandra has a provocative, trashy side to her that does not bode well for thefuture health of this affair.

Cinematographer MarioMontero's edgy, jagged, on-the-hoof shooting style serves the subject well;full of fast-forward sequences with washed out colour, it stresses thebreathlessness but also the precarious nature of this quirky love affair.

Prod cos: Els Films de la Rambla, Grandalla Cinematografica
Int'l sales:
Latido Films
Ventura Pons
Ventura Pons, from the novelby Lluis-Anton Baulenas
Mario Montero
Prod des:
Bel.Lo Torras
Pere Abadal
Carles Cases
Main cast:
Santi Millan, CayetanaGuillen Cuervo, Merce Pons, Marc Cartes