There is enormous clarity and control in this film from Mexican director Alejandra Márquez Abella, and a tremendous lead performance from Ilse Salas. She is Sofía, one of the ladies-who-lunch who idle away their days in the wealthy gated communities of Mexico City in 1982, just as the country teeters into economic meltdown and the peso slides into worthlessness compared with the US dollar, a humiliation that symbolises the collapse in national self-esteem.
Sofía’s torpid life is spent at the tennis club, or at restaurants, or at the continuous round of birthday parties. During the summer, she and her husband, Fernando (Flavio Medina), pack the kids off to an international camp – telling them not to mix with other Mexicans – and she spends even more time with frenemies she has known since high school. But she is nettled at the arrival of newcomer Ana Paula (Paulina Gaitán), who wants to be admitted to their social circle and who seems immune to the financial crisis threatening to destroy Sofía’s status.
Salas is very good at showing Sofía’s face throughout all this – often shot in extreme closeup, prepared, in TS Eliot’s words, to meet the faces that she meets. It is variously bright, hostess-like, sympathetic, sly, haughty, sad, angry. Sofía’s secret is that she has a weird fangirl celeb-crush on Julio Iglesias and fantasises about him coming to one of her parties – and is silently enraged at the news that Iglesias actually is coming to the party of one of her rich rivals.
The movie gives us her long, slow deterioration. She has one of her male servants fired for “talking back” – that is, asking when he is going to get paid – and then forgets she has fired him. Out of dysfunctional spite, she steals a pair of cufflinks from the house of Ana Paula, whose husband is later disconcerted to see them on the shirt of Fernando when they’re having a tense, reconciliatory lunch. It’s a film that reminded me a little of Lucrecia Martel’s The Swamp, in its evocation of pure indolence and depression. A great performance from Salas.
Source: The Guardian