Carmen and Lola, Roma romance from Spain

Zaira Romero and Rosy Rodríguez in Carmen and Lola

Carmen and Lola (Carmen y Lola) is a Spanish language story of two young Roma women who fall in love. It’s the first film of this kind. Arantxa Echevarría wrote and directed this tale of lesbian love amid traditional patriarchal values. I found the film on HBO Max.

The actors were all nonprofessional and Romany. The performances were quite good.

A few words about the English subtitles of this film. The word the people used for themselves was Gitano, which was translated as “Gypsy.” The word they used for non-Roma people, which I couldn’t quite catch in Spanish, was translated as “Whitey.” Both those words were a bit glaring to me but that’s a nitpick about translation. Overall it was a good film.

Carmen (Rosy Rodriguez) and Lola (Zaira Romero) both worked with their families in an open air market. Education (which Lola wanted) was not valued, especially by the men for their daughters. Girls were expected to marry young and have lots of babies.

Zaira Romero in Carmen and Lola

Lola was a graffiti artist. She was already aware that she was a lesbian. She was still in school but didn’t always attend. She was actively looking online and around her for other lesbians. She couldn’t keep her eyes off of Carmen, who was getting engaged to one of Lola’s cousins.

Rosy Rodríguez in Carmen and Lola

Carmen was excited to be engaged and ready to start her life as a traditional woman. But the more she hung around with Lola, the more her sense that she was attracted to men came into question.

Zaira Romero and Rosy Rodríguez in Carmen and Lola

Soon they were sneaking away into places where they could be together. But of course they were found out. The reaction from their families was emotional and scary. Carmen and Lola’s behavior was considered a sinful abomination by the Roma community.

Arantxa Echevarría did a masterful job with her non-actor cast. The film was beautiful and revealing of a way of life we don’t often see. The growing love between the two main characters was treated with tenderness and innocence.

If you watch the film, I’d like to hear what you thought of the ending.

poster for Carmen and Lola

Here’s the trailer.

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