Wednesday, October 26, 2016

La vida inmoral de la pareja ideal

It’s love at first sight for Lucio (Sebastián Aguirre Boëda) and Martina (Ximena Romo) when they meet in high school. It doesn’t take long for them to become an item, threading the unstable path of adolescence together while pushing the envelope with regard to their sexuality. 25 years later, their paths cross again in San Miguel de Allende, which bore witness to the climactic peak and abrupt crash of their juvenile romance. The awkwardness of their meeting, however, suggests underlying issues in need of closure. Martina (Cecilia Suarez) is now teaching ballet at a local dance school, and lies to him about being married and having a daughter. Lucio (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) divides his time between Mexico and Madrid, and lies to her about being married and how his pregnant Spanish wife is coming over for a visit. As they agree to meet later that evening for a ballet presentation she’s in charge of, their fictional lives begin, coerced actor-wannabe friends and family in tow, culminating in a riotous dinner that will unleash a lot of pent-up emotions from an unresolved past.

Who doesn’t dig a movie about second chances? Seriously. There is always a place in cinema and literature for the one that got away, and these storylines are often romanticized to achieve a poetic effect. This film takes advantage of that, opting for a 25-year gap to connect two love stories unfolding at the same time. Or perhaps the best way to describe it is that of an interrupted romance narrative continued two decades later. Expounding on that seahorse monogamy meme that came out a few years back, the premise here is simple: Love can wait. Or at least it always does in romantic comedies. But remember that real life is a different beast altogether, my friends.

Anyway, we have to give a shout-out to the magical town of San Miguel de Allende where the scenes in the present timeline were filmed. You might have already heard a lot about this famous tourist destination in Guanajuato, but seeing it here will pique your curiosity even more. Its otherworldly charm registers really well onscreen. Imagine how surreal it will be once you get to visit the place yourself.

The plot unfolds in a non-linear way. Don’t worry, the setup will confuse you just for a minute or two. What you get to appreciate in this kind of storytelling is how it keeps you hanging and waiting for answers. It is revealed early on that the relationship fell apart 25 years ago. What happened? We can only guess. The scenes shuttle back and forth between past and present, using various plot devices to aid in making the transition between scenes from those periods more fluid. You get to know the couple in two distinct stages of their lives, and the juxtaposition helps a great deal in emphasizing character development.

The humor of the movie is more situational in nature. Most of the scenes that evoked laughter from the audience involved the make-believe lives the lead characters have created for themselves, on how both of them try so hard to outdo the other’s web of lies. Of course, when their farce starts to fall apart, the resulting riot is cathartic at best. It’s not something that you will find funny in real life because it’s plain stupid, to be honest. But then again, how boring would the story be if they just met again, found out they were still both single, and then just hit it off right away? Right? Right?

While the present narrative is downright hilarious and awkward, the past storyline is as poignant as it is nostalgic. Blame the 90’s setting, camcorders and all. The era is unimportant, though, because the setting is high school anyway. In fact, that is one of the better aspects of the movie. You can imagine how your reaction would be different if you are already in your 30’s and you saw this way back in your prime. In a way, the plot unfolding in the present would more likely serve as a warning of a possible future. I suppose the effect would be similar to the younger generation today who will be seeing it. It’s interesting to know how a 16-year old teenager now will react when he or she sees this film again 25 years later. This is a story about growth and maturity, after all. However, it’s going to be a trip down memory lane for a more mature demographic, a reminiscing of their adventures during their wild and free days.

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