Sunday, December 16, 2012
A HUGE surprise, very positive surprise. Knew the highlights of the storyline but never imagined that a story like this one could be told as is done here; much less that story is being told in a film from Latin America. Think that have so much to say about this film that post will be long, so please bear with me.
The Film - part 1
Feature film debut by Chilean Marialy Rivas, after her much acclaimed short Blokes, is an impressive work that looks and feels like the work of a more experienced director as does quite successfully something that not many have been able to accomplish; she does a fragmented film so well, with such a good rhythm that makes watching a great experience as you can hardly tell that films is a rapid (at many times) succession of moments that make narrative to flow almost seamless. There is only one consideration to experience this, you have to really understand Spanish as I believe this is the kind of film where much will be lost in translation and consequently, you will see more the fragments than the narrative flow.
The filmmaking style comes from mimicking the Internet with its fast transactions, fast typing, fast blogging, fast posting, fast liberation, fast multitasking and fast everything; but also mimicking Internet's proliferous use of images (photos, drawings and videos) and words, more often than not, spontaneous words posted without much thinking. More or less this is what Marialy Rivas said in an interview and according to me that's a good description of what you see in the screen. A world inhabited mainly -but not only- by younger people, a world that has a succession of fragments, moments, a world that Marialy Rivas and her team were able to capture quite well in the screen. Have seen many fragmented style films from America, Europe and Asia but in my opinion none, I say none, does it as well as is done here -not even Japanese cinema. Chapeau Miss Rivas.
Technically movie is very complex; just as an example, the screenplay was written by four people, Rivas plus Pedro Peirano (La Nana, NO), Sebastián Sepúlveda (also did editing) and Camila Gutiérrez; and don't doubt that film was made in the editing room, which obviously required more filming to fill the gaps to finally reach the end product. Also worth mentioning is that film is almost entirely shot with a subjective camera showing the perspective of the main character; there are a few objective shots that I imagine were done to increase the "hotness" factor in movie as these are mostly sex scenes.
The Story - part 1
Inspired by a real blog that run from 2005 to 2007, film tells the perhaps not that unusual story of a young girl-almost woman that uses the blog to vent her thoughts about everything that matters to her and when you come from a very conservative family ruled by religion what matters to you is sex as a consequence of your healthy sexual appetite that is furiously requesting everything that is denied by family (when everything sexual is forbidden) and most of all religion (guilt), especially those religions like Evangelical Christians -as portrayed here- or Catholicism.
The Film - part 2
To tell the story film uses different storytelling techniques. One, perhaps the less used, is having the characters telling their lines; another is the actual representation of the blog in the screen plus live chatting, and close-ups of people posting comments in the blog, in all cases you see what is written; last uses the main character voice over that tells what she is thinking, which most times contradicts what she just said. Also uses (very sexually graphic) animated line drawings and photo stills -some tinted-. There are moments that have two styles at once, which is very effective to give the fast rhythm and accurately represent multitasking.
I laughed hard at many of the written texts with the misspelled words, the very Chilean colloquial words and sentences (written colloquial language is always funny), and Anglicisms like Yisus (Jesus) and guater (water), all of which indeed you find in the infamous net. Here is where especially I believe that much will be lost in translation and understanding Spanish becomes essential.
But what blew my mind was Alicia Rodríguez outstanding performance as the lead character, Daniela. She is so good with silences and most of all with face expressions, specifically her eyes tell everything that words don't say. Amazing for a young actress and more for a non-European actress. She is so good here that got extremely surprised when I learned that have seen her previous films, Navidad, La Vida de los Peces, Gatos Viejos and Bonsai, films where she was "invisible" to me. So I deduce that her greatness here has more to do with the expert hand of a great director.
The Story - Part 2
So the story is about sexual awakening in a very repressive environment, which obviously leads to lots of sexual encounters in many forms. There are many sex scenes, some more graphic than others, and some suggested. Nothing you have not seen in European cinema but here, done within the filmmaking/storytelling style(s) frame become quite "hot", to use the American word; which is indeed unusual in Latin American cinema that tends to do sex scenes quite vulgar in one extreme or so not erotic in the other extreme. Surprising is to find that some non-Spanish speaking critics and viewers find sex scenes "excessive", so perhaps this is another issue that is lost in translation.
This takes me to the part of the story that will include some spoilers, so if you wish not to learn them please stop reading this and the following paragraph. Was reading some reviews in lesbian sites and to my surprise some say that this is not a lesbian-interest movie. Absolutely disagree. This is not a bisexual character movie, this is a 100% lesbian interest story about a girl that had to follow family/religion/society rules in her sexual awakening and that included exploring love and sex with men. Not only is the story of many women in the world, but with a few differences, can be the story of many of my friends and mine. For me there was no need to learn the real-life story as knew that after Daniela says that she is lost and movie ends, what comes next is her discovering her sexual preference and according to what I saw in story there was only one she will follow to be part of her own self.
I learned that Camila Gutiérrez, who co wrote the script, is the real-life blogger and recently she publicly "came out" as lesbian; so, this recount of her life -with many creative liberties- had to end exactly the same way. Why? The main clue in the film story is the repressive family and the role the mother plays as the direct executioner of the repression.
No More Parts
Definitively an interesting film from any point of view that I could analyze it and believe that made clear that there is a great director behind movie that hope will continue to take risks in her next movie as much as she did here. As we know film has been honored while traveling the festival circtuit starting with winning the World Cinema Screenwriting Award at 2012 Sundance, being official selection at 2012 San Sebastian in the Horizons section and winning the Sebastiane Award, being official selection at the 2012 Berlinale at Generation section, is Chile's submission for the 2013 Goya Awards and more accolades. All this done while becoming a box office success in Chile.
So is a film that attracts mainstream cinema viewers, as film does not compromise much the way it ends which know pleases general audiences. But undoubtedly this is a lesbian-interest movie that will please many that could see something of themselves in film; but I know that due to the graphic male/female sex scenes many could be offended by film, so watch at your own risk.
I do highly recommend film, but insist that chances are that if you don't understand Spanish much will be lost in translation.
Watch trailer @MOC