Presented at the 2010 Guadalajara Film Festival, "Las buenas hierbas" received a warm reception from the audience (in part, due to the presence of Ofelia Medina in the cast), and a couple of prizes (Best Actress for Úrsula Pruneda) and funding, but it should not be overlooked that it contains considerable shortcomings which affect the overall effect. In the first 33 minutes, María Novaro (who --again-- unwisely edits her own material) builds the story beautifully, without stressing any particular aspect, just letting the images flow, atmosphere and characters grow, until the first plot point turns the audience's attention to herb expert Lala (Medina), who suffers from Alzheimer, and the reaction to it by her daughter Dalia (Pruneda). The next scenes follow the strategy of Dalia, her weird romance with a youngster (who appears out of nowhere as a sort of voyeur, and then disappears as if nothing), the sad (and never fully developed nor explained) subplot dealing with Dalia's neighbor Blanquita (Ana Ofelia Murguía) and the killing of her grand daughter... Every now and then we return to Lala and Dalia, especially in a brilliantly improvised scene, when Dalia tries to dress her mother, while Lala insists on the search for a herb in a book; and to the funny effects that the little details Lala is revealing, have on Dalia... But everything is so unfocused, that it is really a pity. Novaro even included her own son singing on screen a couple of songs (one can deal with the first, but the second is just placed there, out of the blue, in an obnoxious manner); and describes the death of Blanquita's granddaughter in a way one cannot discern what is going on with that poor girl who resembles a "pepenadora" in a long pink dress. Only in the last minutes before the film ends, when Blanquita joins Dalia in taking care of Lala, the movie improves a bit. I think Maria Novaro can easily cut a few minutes from the film, in the middle section, making it tighter and more coherent. Otherwise it is a good effort, but not much more.
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