Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tears For Fears: One Of The Most Bizarre Crimes In The Annals Of Mexican Cinema History

Welcome back to my Tears for Fears marathon, where I will be covering every movie featuring the Mexican folk legend La Llorona in anticipation of her newest movie in April...

A caveat: I had to watch this film in unsubtitled Spanish, which I'm not entirely fluent in despite what my AP testing certificate says. Although the entire script reads like "Buenos días, jefe." "Buenos días." "¿Cómo estás?"¿Bien, y tú?" so it wasn't exactly a challenge.

Year: 2007
Director: Aurora Martínez
Cast: Brenda Castro, Eleazar Garcia Jr., Antonio Lozano 
Run Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

2004's Las Lloronas is my favorite film of this marathon so far, and my theory on that is because it's directed by a woman who actually brought a new perspective to the character other than fear and distrust of a hysterical female. Today's film on the docket, La Verdadera Historia de La Llorona (AKA The True Story of La Llorona), is the third and final film in the marathon to be directed by a woman, and between it and the same year's The Cry, it turns out that being a woman doesn't just naturally make you better at this.

But if you think about it, it's true equality when we accept that female filmmakers can fail just as hard as male filmmakers have for generations and don't get too upset about it or blame their entire sex. So really La Verdadera Historia de La Llorona is the most feminist movie I've ever seen.

I can't find a single screenshot for this movie, so I'm just gonna divide this article with images of famous Hispanic stars dramatically crying.

So the plot of this movie is... thin. A woman who works as a secretary is also sleeping with her married boss. Literally the only times she goes to work are when they're having sex or when she stops by to tell him she's pregnant. She finds herself sleepwalking around the streets at night weeping and crying "!Ay, mis hijos!" a behavior that seems really familiar, though I can't quite put my finger on it. She eventually makes nice with the boss's wife and they kinda sorta plot against him but not really, and there's not actually a Llorona involved beyond her nighttime adventures. So... Yeah. They made this into a movie.

Don't ask me why, it wasn't MY idea.

The plot, which is absolutely the story for a telenovela that never made it to air, is pure blunt force trauma, simple as simple can get, and the entire construction of the movie matches that. It seems to have been sound mixed by someone wearing big foam fingers on both hands, the good people wear white and the bad people wear black in case you're confused, and they clearly didn't have the budget to hire extras. This movie is barren of human beings to the point that, when the secretary and her boss close the door to have a private conversation, you wonder why they bothered because there isn't a single soul in the building, or for several blocks around it. It wouldn't be difficult to find evidence for a fan theory that this movie takes place in a post-apocalyptic Mexico. Though, come to think of it, that would require it to have fans in the first place.

Thankfully La Verdadera Historia has very little dialogue, so the actors don't have time to leave a particularly bad taste in the mouth, but this also provides absolutely no depth for characters who are already thin enough to play Dickensian orphans. And the movie fails to provide even a single scare, though I'm not entirely certain that it's attempting to. There's a lot of focus on chores in the bathroom (we see our heroine getting ready in excruciating detail every morning, including brushing her teeth without water like a madwoman), which would seem to be an obvious attempt to set up a mirror scare in the medicine cabinet. But by the time the movie ends you realize the director just really wanted us to know how clean our girl's mouth is.

An artist's rendering of me by the end of these 80 minutes.

I hear if you don't have anything nice to say, you shouldn't say anything at all, so I should probably bring some positivity so I don't just have to post a blank page instead of a review. When the secretary wanders around the moonlit streets wailing like La Llorona, her scream is very powerful and a little creepy, though the five minute chunks in which this happens (as well as the fact that these scenes all amount to nothing) really deflate the atmosphere. 

Really, the only thing that I unequivocally liked is how absolutely mind-bogglingly tall her boss is. Every time the actor walks onscreen it's like Herman Munster has barged into this office. I half expect every doorway to have a chunk taken out of it that's exactly the size of his head. 

Is that a compliment? Who cares. It's time to end this incredibly short review because there's literally nothing else in the movie worth wasting keystrokes on. "True story," my ass. This is hardly a story to begin with, and it is a spitefully dull bungle of the Llorona legend. This certainly isn't my Llorona, and though none of these movies have managed to get her 100% right, this is the only one to get her 100% wrong. Thank you, next.

TL;DR: La Verdadera Historia de La Llorona is an absolutely abhorrent bore that completely, willfully misunderstands La Llorona.
Rating: 1/10
Word Count: 926

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