Friday, October 14, 2016

Treintona, Soltera y Fantástica

30-something Inés (Bárbara Mori) attends her niece’s wedding reception and is heckled by her mother ad nauseam, mocking her for not being married despite her long-term relationship with her man-child boyfriend Marco (Andrés Almeida), who can’t even pay for toll. With alcohol as her refuge, she makes a snap decision to end the relationship, and regrets it the next day. But her best friend Sensei (Juan Pablo Medina) thinks it might be the best time to take a break and focus on her plan to relocate to the beach and write her book. Ex-flame Óscar (Jordi Mollà), now divorced, then enters the picture. They rekindle their bygone romance, but he wants no strings attached. As she tries to make sense of the various aspects of her life, depression sets in, making her balancing act more complicated than usual. When one of the pillars she’s leaning on collapses, so does her world. What’s a girl to do?

Oh look, it’s Bárbara Mori! I’ve been forever wondering what the heck happened to her after Rubí reached the end of its run back in 2004. Perhaps there really is nowhere else to go but down once your career has peaked. The good news is that this new film project of hers topped the Mexican box office on its week of release, and she doesn’t even seem to have aged a single day since 2004. It would be a good idea for her to run back to Televisa right now. Maybe they’ll ask her to headline a new telenovela. You never know!

But the premise of this film is not new at all. It’s like a Mexican version of Bridget Jones’ Diary. You have a woman somewhere in her 30’s contemplating on what she wants to do with her life. In short, quarter life crisis! Or does this already qualify as midlife? What is the average life expectancy in Mexico for women, anyway? These movies don’t really have a thesis to present. What they do is give women the assurance that they are not alone in their dilemma. This social phenomenon, this pressure on getting married and settling down, appears to be a common trend in many societies. The genre would not be this saturated, otherwise.

The plot doesn't deviate much from previous movies of the same genre either. You have the guy best friend who is secretly in love with her. You have the married gal best friend who thinks getting hitched is for everyone, so she ends up introducing her to every guy she knows. You have the poking-fun-at-Tinder scene, which is kind of new, in fairness. You have the supposedly no strings attached sex where she wants to connect emotionally, but the other party is not on the same page. And of course, you also have the scene where she declares that she is a strong single lady who doesn’t need a man, and then she heads to the nearest adult toy shop to buy a vibrator. I guess they are all taking notes from the same chick flick handbook.

But don’t we all reach that point in life? I mean, the repetitive questioning of our purpose, not purchasing a sex toy. The pressure is greater for women because they are always reminded about their body clock and having babies, while men can just slack it off because andropause kicks in way later in life. Being a bachelor is cool. Being an old maid is frowned upon. But enjoying this film doesn’t really require consulting your hormonal activities as a prerequisite. Here, you just watch someone older deal with life and take charge. Think of it as pointers for when you reach the same age and find yourself stuck in the same situation. Your career, love life, dreams, or lack thereof, will all be screaming for attention. And then you learn later on that nobody really ever knows what he’s doing and that everyone is just winging it. LIFE!

Perhaps the main difference is the film’s ending, which veered away from the predictable and opted for something more open to interpretation. Or maybe that is the very argument that I am looking for. Sometimes, in life, you need to take a break. The thing is, there is no pause button. How convenient would it be if there was one, right? That’s where the pressure comes from, because you know that the world will not stop revolving while you sulk. It's that fear of losing out that keeps us paranoid, really. When you realize that it is not a competition and that the race for the perfect life is non-existent, that’s when everything starts to get better. Not all of us follow the same rhythm. Not everyone jives to the same beat. By all means, find your own.

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