Wednesday, 28 March 2012

flacas vacas (d. santiago svirsky, w. verónica perrotta)

Flacas Vacas takes a formula and applies it to a local environment. The formula is three women in their thirties going away on a disastrous holiday. The environment is the Uruguayan coast. The movie is clearly billed as a comedy and features classic comedy elements such as a squashed pet turtle and the gradual destruction of the holiday cottage. The relationships between the three women evolve, if not in quite the saccharine Hollywood manner the formula might have suggested. There's a handsome stranger (played by Dario, a man I met the other night who dedicates three sessions a week to studying the theatrics of Mnouchkine. Whose work he saw once in Santiago.) The Dario character is perhaps the least interesting of the lot, doing what men do - taking cocaine and shagging the slightly prettier woman after suggesting he was going to shag the slightly less pretty woman. But the female characters are all convincing and believable. One of them is played by the writer, Veronica Perrota, whose sassy script keeps the film honest. The cinematography is astute: every time there's a wide, the film looks a bit iffy. Suggesting the camera was not top of the range. But sensibly the DOP has gone for close-ups and carefully framed shots, giving the piece a slightly clumsy artfulness which keeps the focus on the actresses and helps to recount what is essentially the story of three women's lost weekend.

The fact that the movie has been made and released is telling. This is a post-dictatorship, nascent middle class movie. The politics are kept under the table. The characters don't seem in any way 'third world': they're slightly confused women whose problems relate to relationships and men. And getting on with each other. As such, Flacas Vacas offers a convincing portrait of a new Latin American demographic. It's not the most profound of films, but like the US model it perhaps echoes, it's not trying to be. Personally, I'd have liked the film to have explored in slightly more detail the darker edges of its characters' lives, but this is a comedy first and a drama second. As such, it's an effective, intelligent piece of movie making which is fluffy enough to please its target audience without ever being gratingly fluffy; retaining the necessary hint of psychological veracity to ensure that it doesn't get lost in pursuit of a happy-ever-after conclusion.

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