Director: Lina Rodriguez Writers: Lina Rodriguez Cast: María Serrano, Clara Monroy, Angela Katherine Laverde Runtime: 87 min Rating: 14A
Lina Rodriguez is a Toronto-based Colombian filmmaker that will be having her international debut in the celebrated TIFF Bell-Lightbox. Her intimate exposé of a Young woman’s search for identity hopes to captivate audiences while shedding light in her up and coming talent as a filmmaker.
Alejandra (María Serrano) is a young woman who lives in a small apartment with her mother in the city of Bogota, Colombia. She spends her nighs partying and having a good time with his friends, with whom she has formed a complex relationship full of sexual tensions. Alejandra’s existence is intense, and she spends her life accepting her own nature that makes her pursue self gratification. However, there is another side to Alejandra, one that is eager to understand her own actions, and one that seeks to explore the meaning behind her interactions with herself and with others.
Señoritas is a film that is heavy on movement and contemplation. It relies on what is not said by characters in order to reveal their real intentions and thoughts. Because of this, there are many long shots of characters doing mundane things, which create a somber atmosphere that could either thoroughly please a viewer, or absolutely deter them from enjoying the feature. Despite its short duration, the movie does feel somewhat long, but only because of the time it takes to explore its protagonist in a physical manner. In the instances in which the characters do interact, whether with dialogue or without, there is a captivating sincerity that is very well captured by the actors. Not only do they manage to interact in a convincing manner, but they do so in a way that reflects a youthful spirit in an authentic way, rather than a mechanical and fabricated one. Having said this, I truly feel that Señoritas would resonate better with viewers that can speak Spanish and are familiar with how Latin American interactions between people work. I am unsure of how well the subtitles do some of the dialogue justice, and I can imagine a lot of sentiment getting lost in translation. However, the relationships between characters are good enough that it is possible to ignore their dialogue and understand the complex bond that lies between them. However, the fact that the film is mostly silent really makes those instances with dialogue essential, and as mentioned before, their translation might not be enough to truly captivate the viewers.
Señoritas is clearly a passion project that very intimately displays information that is very personal to its creator. Because of this, a dark atmosphere of mystery embraces the piece, and gives it a distant but interesting feeling. However, as a film that entertains and captivates it is not quite as successful, and while there is meaning behind the lack of dialogue and intense focus on the protagonist, at times this merely translates into a reflection of what this project really is, an amateur first feature film. Having said this, the director’s style does display huge promise, both in her willingness to explore deep facets of her own life onto the screen, and to do so in a manner that might not necessarily appeal to a massive audience. Lina Rodriguez promises to be a filmmaker with grit, and it will be interesting to see where the exposure of this film takes her.