The second feature film by Columbian filmmaker Franco Lolli, Litigante follows single mother Silvia (Carolina Sanin) as she struggles to cope dealing with her mother’s recent cancer diagnosis alongside a corruption scandal at work, all whilst finding herself entering into a new relationship. If this premise sounds a little too melodramatic, it’s because that’s exactly what it is. Although Lolli makes an ambitious stab at finding the humanity in each of the various narrative threads, the delivery leans too heavily into the dramatics without ever resulting in a satisfying or meaningful payoff.
At the centre of the dramatic storm that makes up the film’s plot, there’s Sanin, who does a phenomenal job as someone who’s trying to hold everything together. Her interactions with her mother (played by the director’s own mother Leticia Gómez) as they relentlessly butt heads are by far some of the strongest character moments of the movie, but this is partly because these are the only times that these central characters are given something interesting to do. Likewise, the supporting cast also do an excellent job in their respective roles – even if the script doesn’t give them much to work with either.
Much like life itself, it’s the smaller moments in Litigante that are the most memorable and enjoyable as they inject some genuine tenderness into a mostly lifeless affair. From playing in a public pool, spending Christmas in a hospital room, or go-karting, it’s the depictions of snapshots of life like these that demonstrate that Lolli is fully capable of telling intimate stories through moving images. If the film had stuck to focusing on just one aspect of its needlessly complex plot, then the result would have likely been a lot more cohesive, and subsequently a lot more enjoyable.
The problem is that Litigante doesn’t know if it wants to be a family drama, courtroom drama, or romantic drama; and by jumping between each without any apparent structure, it ultimately becomes neither. As a result, viewers are robbed of any emotional payoff by a blatant lack of focus coupled with convenient time jumps that resolve huge plot points off-screen, all of which culminates in a lazily tacked-on ending that’s downright insulting.
It’s clear watching Litigante that the potential is there for it to have been something special, it’s frustrating that it’s all thrown away with a messy and muddled script.
Litigante does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.