Sex and the City may be the splashiest example of a movie about the love and sex lives of women over 40, but it's not the only one. A little indie drama called How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer explores that theme as it tells the story of three generations of women in a Mexican-American family and the sexual awakening they experience during one hot summer in a dusty Arizona border town.
The movie, directed and written by Georgina Garcia Riedel, stars a pre-Ugly Betty America Ferrera as a teenager about to lose her virginity to the new boy in town, Lucy Gallardo as the 70-year-old widowed matriarch who becomes attracted to the gardener teaching her how to drive, and Elizabeth Peña as the woman in the middle, a lonely, divorced butcher shop owner whose passions are stoked by the local lothario. The heat—literal and figurative— is palpable, even in an air-conditioned theater.
Peña was drawn to the script immediately because, with a few exceptions on screen, "Women's sexuality no longer exists after 38, 39, 40. The only thing that might come close is Desperate Housewives, and that's a comedy. This movie allows a middle-aged woman, and a woman in her seventies to be sexual. We're allowed our sexuality back."
The 46-year-old star of such films as Down and Out in Beverly Hills, La Bamba, Jacob's Ladder, Lonestar, and Tortilla Soup didn't hesitate to expose that vulnerable side on screen, but it helped that she already knew Steven Bauer, the actor playing opposite her in intimate scenes, having worked with him in the Emmy-winning miniseries Drug Wars: The Camarena Story.