"La Mujer de Mi Hermano": Drama of love, deception a telenovela at heart

It's anyone's guess why "My Brother's Wife" was a box-office sensation througout Latin America, except to say that popular stars and a steady diet of telenovelas must have something to do with it.

Here's a "steamy" soap opera that's never very steamy, and if you set your expectations low, this movie is only too happy to meet them.

Movie review 2 stars

Showtimes and trailer

"My Brother's Wife (La Mujer de Mi Hermano)," with Bárbara Mori, Christian Meier, Manolo Cardona. Directed by Ricardo de Montreuil, from a screenplay by Jaime Bayly, based on a novel by Bayly. 93 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles. Rated R for sexuality and language. Meridian.

For one thing, the title's all wrong. This tearful tale of infidelity isn't told from the perspective of Gonzalo (Manolo Cardona), a Mexico City artist who has an affair with Zoë (Bárbara Mori), the beautiful wife of his brother Ignacio (Christian Meier). This is Zoë's movie, from the moment she eats 20 grapes for breakfast to the birth of her first child under the false pretense that Ignacio is the father.

Not that it matters in a movie as rigidly prosaic as this, in which the "living in glass houses" metaphor is interpreted literally and the husband always wears two pairs of socks. It's bad enough that wealthy businessman Ignacio will only have sex with Zoë on Saturdays (think of her as a really desperate housewife), but he literally has cold feet. Could first-time director Ricardo de Montreuil spell it out any clearer? Zoë's a stunner in plunging necklines and Ignacio's sterile in every sense of the word. When she reignites her dormant passion with Gonzalo, you're tempted to give her a standing ovation.

With its antiseptic interiors, Catholic anguish about infidelity and abortion, and Zoë's gay best friend (clearly the best man she knows), "My Brother's Wife" is enjoyably silly in its earnest attempt at serious marital melodrama. Let's just hope Zoë's mother-in-law doesn't run a DNA check on her new grandson, or there's gonna be hell to pay.

Jeff Shannon: j.sh@verizon.net