Colombian director Franco Lolli presents his second feature film in the form of Litigante, which follows single mother Silvia (Carolina Sanin) as she tries the best she can to continue wading through the sea of troubles her life has drifted into, taking care of her resistant mother as she fights with cancer and fighting her own battles in her career. A moment’s respite appears impossible for Silvia, yet glimmers of hope cast down on her from a new relationship and spurts of family unity give her something to desperately hold onto as the days roll on towards an impending bereavement.
The general mood of this film is forever swirling into a pit of darkness, which can hit the viewer hard, but in the wrong way. Too much misery can make a film laborious to watch, and an endless onslaught of gloom and harsh reality, delivered through the script’s language, can simply make a film unenjoyable. This could be down to the writing of the characters, but as the end credits roll you would be forgiven for questioning whether you actually felt any empathy for any of them. A sense of indifference can be critically damaging to a film’s success, and in Litigante’s case, partnered with the story arc’s single-track direction, it leaves the picture feeling exceedingly uneven.
Sanin does a fantastic job leading the line and acting as the glue that holds the film together when her onscreen depiction could not be further from that. Silvia is clearly a draining and demanding character to portray, but Sanin executes the role with ease. She does, however, tend to deliver a large majority of her lines through shouting, which is understandable due to her character’s trials and tribulations, but also arguably excessive, detracting from the importance of the very real life struggles reflected in the story. Frustration can be shown in a number of different ways, not always through persistent, decibel-shattering conversations and arguments that assault the viewer, although the script doesn’t do Silvia any favours. Indeed, the film itself is relatively lifeless outside of these arguments, serving up few thrills or action in its plot and the most powerful and effective moments shown through finding solace in small things.
Moments of beauty shed light on Silvia’s life and the film as a whole, presenting the realisation that not everyone is perfect – in fact we are all far from it – but the difference is what we do to make things right and live in this world the best we can. Lolli presents some lovely cinematic moments revolving around family values (that is, when they are not arguing), but on the whole Litigante is simply a bit muddled, unclear in its intentions, and falls short of a successful narrative structure. If you want to feel sad, tired and dejected for an hour and a half, then this film is just the ticket.
Litigante is released digitally on demand on 10th July 2020.
Watch the trailer for Litigante here: