Bursting with lust, love, anguish and heartache. Cruising at a steady, subdued pace, taking in the class, repression and relationship of an ageing Paraguayan couple. The Heiresses (Las Herederas) is a sumptuous, sensuous ride that charts a whirlwind period in the life of Chela (Ana Brun), our desperate protagonist.
This is the debut film of writer-director Marcelo Martinessi. The feature was made possible by a seemingly endless list of production houses, but retains the crystalline vision of the auteur and provides its audience with a polished product completely of his making.
Premiering at the Berlin Film Festival, the movie uses the sexually, socially and emotionally repressed Chela’s beloved Mercedes as a vessel to explore these themes, and a vehicle through which she can realise her independence.
The demure protagonist is a middle-aged lesbian in a relationship with the extrovert Chiquita (Margarita Irún). The couple, belonging to the Paraguayan middle-class, are in arrears and are struggling to cope with their perceived fall from grace. A spell behind bars for Chiquita gives Chela the opportunity to explore relative freedom via stumbling into a taxi-service role for a neighbour, an opportunity she cherishes.
The film is centred on women, featuring hardly any men and using them mostly as plot devices to set up intimate lesbian scenes. Incredibly, for the most part, the actors used are relatively unknown, yet all play their roles consummately, and to such a degree that the displays of angst and desire appear painfully natural to the audience. Brun, in particular, perfectly exhibits a sense of hesitancy, hope and liberation.
The Heiresses is an understated, quiet and absorbing study of an individual experiencing an awakening. Beautiful camerawork provides intimate detailing of an explosive chapter in a life that appeared suspended in inertia before the debts piled up. Every nearby detail is meticulously captured, while the background is often blurred, demanding the audience exist in our central character’s immediate world. Martinessi delivers an elegant masterpiece.
The Heiresses is released in select cinemas on 10th August 2018.
Watch the trailer for The Heiresses here: