Pretentious kitsch soap opera that could be good but looks like bad theater
This movie had some potential to succeed, as its plot allowed a better outcome. Though, it did not happen, probably due to bad choices taken by director Arturo Ripstein. Everything is too little realistic, full of cliché, looking very much like (bad) theater. Overacting is the rule, particularly when it comes to the main character, Emilia. As a matter of fact, she and her husband achieve the goal of portraying a dysfunctional family: her character, the most developed one, is clearly a woman who is not able to take care of her own life - including by keeping the apartment reasonably neat -, and she is much less able to be a careful mother. She has a serious problem in the way she deals with men, as she always needs them sexually desperately, but also despises those who are not mean to her, like her passive and apathetic husband. Spectator really feels how depressing is such situation. However, with very bad dialogs and the soap-opera style kitsch dialogs, the result is bad anyway. The usage of black and white and innovative camera movements with a wet or dirty and decaying background could be viewed as a great cinematography, but I understand it as just a pretentious disguise for a problematic content. Indeed, it reinforces the exaggerated theater-like style. Sexism is another drawback, an element present throughout the movie, and it is not clear if it is a cultural problem, a screenplay problem (which would be weird, as the writer is a woman) or an unsuccessful social critic.
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