The Heiresses (Las Herederas) (2018)
April 20, 2019 4:22 PM - Subscribe

Troubled Chela and vivacious Chiquita are both descended from wealthy families in Asuncion, Paraguay and have been lovers for over 30 years. Recently, their financial situation has worsened and they begin selling (mostly Chela's) possessions. When one of Chiquita's bank debts turns into a fraud charge, both of their lives take surprising turns.

Like the American play (and film) "The Heiress," woven into this story are themes of manipulation through affection, innocence and cynicism, and (re)awakenings. Chela's deep attraction to Angy, a young woman she meets after she acquiesces passively to being a cabbie for some of the other wealthy women in her circle, is unsurprising. That Angy may be the kind of attractive, extroverted "opportunist" that Chiquita was (and is) is left an open question.

This is the first directorial effort of Marcelo Martinessi, who also wrote the screenplay. Martinessi shows a deep empathy and understanding for his all-female cast of characters: a nuanced portrayal of a certain type of gendered precariat represented by Chela and her comrades is almost unheard of on screen, and not something you'd expect from a cis man.

I would have liked to see a lot more of Pati, the maid that Chiquita hires to look after Chela, portrayed by Nilda Gonzalez. She acts as a kind of Bodhisattva of compassion to Chela, which is rewarding to see ... but the trope of the domestic servant whose life you know nothing of is a tiresome one. Pati gets some of the film's best (very dry) comic moments, and one senses that she feels deeply for Chela.

Ana Brun, who plays Chela, is, like Martinessi, new to the big screen: her acting background is in the Paraguayan theatre. She won the Silver Bear for Best Actress for this film. Margarita Irun as Chiquita, Ana Ivanova as Angy, and Maria Martins as Pituca give standout performances as well.
posted by Sheydem-tants
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