22 October 2012

After Lucia / Después de Lucía (Michel Franco, 2012, Mexico)

This film is Mexico's submission to the Academy Awards best foreign language film competition. It seems to be pretty popular with both audiences and critics, but somehow it didn't work for me as much as I expected it to.

In the film, Alejandra and her father have just relocated to Mexico City from Puerto Vallarta following the traumatic death of her mother. For reasons which can be speculated upon based on how the mother died, Alejandra never tells anyone at school that her mother is dead. At school, she falls in with a group of bratty, pot smoking miscreants who seem to be the popular kids. One weekend at a party she gets drunk and lets one of the boys film her having sex with him and the video gets sent all around school. For some reason, possibly relating to the jealousy of one of the other girls, Alejandra is then subject to bullying which is almost too harrowing to watch at times. The ending goes a somewhat different direction that you might expect, but it's not particularly satisfying. For me, the film's scenes of extreme cruelty seemed hard to believe, and this was exacerbated by failing sometimes to understand why these characters made some of the choices they made. It's definitely moving sometimes, maybe horrifying is a better word, but I'm not sure it earns the emotions it conjures.

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