Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Original title: La Teta Asustada
Spain/Peru, 2009. Generalitat de Catalunya – Institut Català de les Indústries Culturals, Ministerio de Cultura, Oberón Cinematográfica, Televisió de Catalunya, Televisión Española, Vela Producciones, Wanda Visión S.A.. Screenplay by Claudia Llosa. Cinematography by Natasha Braier. Produced by Antonio Chavarrias, Claudia Llosa, Jose Maria Morales. Music by Selma Mutal. Production Design by Patricia Bueno, Susana Torres. Costume Design by Ana Villanueva. Film Editing by Frank Gutierrez. Academy Awards 2009. Berlin Film Festival 2009.
It doesn’t happen very often that the protagonist of a film walks around with a potato in her vagina for protection; when it does, I suppose the novelty alone demands that the film be viewed. In the case of Claudia Llosa’s fascinating drama, however, there’s much more to recommend it than just a unique take on familiar subject matter. A young village woman in Peru loses her mother to old age and is wracked with sorrow; according to her family she has inherited the trauma of her mother’s tragedies, who was tortured by terrorists when pregnant with her daughter and according to folkloric belief passed her fears on to her through her breast milk. Now, our heroine goes through her days terrified of being traumatized herself (including the aforementioned tubular protection), working as a maid for a wealthy family and observing the disparate nature of class differences that occur in her world. It’s an incredibly accomplished film, with sobering, static camera work that is reminiscent of the best of Chantal Akerman but always with a visual pop in each scene. Llosa is a highly talented filmmaker, full of curiously original ideas but at the same time never arch or overly dramatic; the film is as honest as it is outrageous.