This isn’t a perfect movie — sometimes the machinery of plot-focused screenwriting hums a little too insistently, especially toward the end, disrupting the quieter, richer music of everyday life — but its clearsighted sensitivity makes it a satisfying one.
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Minor-key and subdued to a fault, the drama nonetheless builds emotional involvement by infinitesimal degrees through its acute observation of characters and social context and its ultra-naturalistic performances.
The film exquisitely balances character study with shrewd commentary on the precarious hierarchy of class distinctions, the turbulent persistence of sexual desire and the lingering privileges of Paraguay’s elite.
Brun, who had never acted onscreen before (like almost the entire cast), won Berlin’s Best Actress prize, and her guarded yet tremulous performance is the film’s primary virtue. But she can’t singlehandedly bring depth to the superficial scenario that Martinessi has engineered for this intriguing character.
Ana Brun’s performance as Chela anchors our attention where Marcelo Martinessi’s understated visuals might otherwise lose it.
This deeply felt Paraguayan drama shines a light on the nation’s fractured identity by crossing numerous generational and class divides.
Martinessi shrewdly combines subtlety, melancholy, satirical observation and candour about sex.
Emotions never before experienced come surging to the surface. How Martinessi pulls this off — in what is his first feature — is nothing less than extraordinary.
A superb first feature from Marcelo Martinessi, this entirely female-driven story is full of gentle wit and playful observations on the crumbling upper echelons of Paraguayan society – there are parallels with early Lucrecia Martel, and with Sebastián Lelio’s exploration of older female sexuality, Gloria.