The Anarchist's Wife

Director: Marie Noelle, Peter Sehr
Screenwriters: Ray Loriga, Marie Noelle

Institute History

  • 2009 Sundance Film Festival


In a story spanning several decades, The Anarchist’s Wife depicts the way the marriage between an idealistic young activist and his glamorous wife is dominated by shifting political powers during the Spanish Civil War and World War II. Justo’s (Juan Diego Botto) political activism separates the couple for years as he goes into hiding and is ultimately deported to a concentration camp, but Manuela (Maria Valverde) steadfastly clings to as much of their old lives as possible in rapidly deteriorating circumstances, raising their children and facing multiple tragedies on her own. After the war, Manuela uproots her life to rush to Justo’s side, only to find that she must again share him with a cause.

In this historical drama that incorporates archival footage, a rich score, and memorable visuals to carefully evoke Spain in the 1930s and '40s, husband-and-wife filmmakers Peter Sehr and Marie Noelle employ impressive historical detail in this story of a single family that finds that unyielding devotion does not come without a price. The film celebrates the couple’s single-minded loyalties—Manuela to her husband and Justo to his beliefs—but also depicts the negative repercussions, especially on the couple’s headstrong young daughter, Paloma (Ivana Baquero). Told through Paloma’s point of view, the story of her parents’ undying love and political commitment is at once wholly romantic and somewhat bittersweet.

— Heidi Zwicker

Screening Details

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