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  Good Girls, The Keeping Up Appearances
Year: 2018
Director: Alejandra Marquez Abella
Stars: Ilse Salas, Flavio Medina, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Paulina Gaitan, Johanna Murillo, Jimena Guerra, Ana Jose Aldrete, Pablo Chemor, Claudia Lobo, Diego Juaregui, Daniel Haddad, Rebecca De Alba, Azul Alenka, Regina Flores Ribot, Alejandro Caballero
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sofia (Ilse Salas) is having her birthday party this evening - it always seems to be somebody's birthday among her circle of friends, mostly women she has known since she was a teenager and just as cliquey as they ever were. As she enjoys the company, laughs at jokes and blows out the candles on her cake, everything seems safe and stable in her hermetically sealed little world, where nobody will ever break into her life and dismantle it, that is simply unthinkable. Yet she is beginning to hear word from various people that others in the high-income bracket of her husband Fernando (Flavio Medina) are not doing as well as they used to, and even that there are troubles ahead...

Seems like there are always troubled times ahead, but there really were for Mexico of the mid-nineteen-eighties which director Alejandra Marquez Abella depicted in her ultra-cool, but hard to read drama of the rich falling off a cliff one by one like lemmings, pushed over by the dire state of the national economy and a complacency that had them believing they were invincible. But nobody is, was the message, and even the most secure existence on Planet Earth, one which has gone unchanged for many years, can be direly misjudged, and the wealthy wives here who lived to spend their husbands' money remain stubbornly clueless about the serious implications of the crisis.

You could apply that blinkered attitude to many similar situations across the modern world, from the eighties to this point in time, but by making her drama specific to this era the director invited you to compare and contrast with the world as it was right now. Through it all, Salas glided like aristocracy until her hair started to grow a little more unruly, or a rash developed on her neck, all little signs that her composure was being chipped away at and her ice queen stylings were being harshly thawed by Fernando's gradually dwindling funds. This lack of acceptance - it was more a disbelief that it could occur than a simple ignorance, could have been frustrating in its studied obliviousness, but no.

This creeping decay was in fact weirdly disturbing, it was not quite a late period David Cronenberg study of an ultra-modern society falling apart, but not far off either, that unblinking stare at Sofia and her coterie of gal pals was so unforgiving that while you may not feel sorry for them, exactly, you did not want to see them slide any further since that meant the rest of us were heading in the same direction. The acting across the board was excellent, these poised women and their go-getting partners who find they are the ones being got realising the main reason they are together is that the ladies were trophies and the men were rich. Once neither is the case, what is the point in them hanging around with each other? Are they merely continuing the rounds of birthday parties for the hell of it?

This continuation of making the same moves over and over because they have no idea what to do to save themselves was seen as satirical in some quarters, a much-needed takedown of an upper class that were wholly self-serving and only cared about the poor when they were cleaning up after the rich in their mansion houses. Yet the effect was somewhat different, it was not exactly horror movie levels but it was chilling, and like horror movies we do hear about people dying because of this crash. For Sofia, the ultimate terror is being ostracised from the friends she once had looking up to her and placing her on a pedestal, and once that happens she curdles, but the last scene alarmingly indicates even after all this humiliation, she is still looking for someone to turn on to bolster her uncertain standing in an uncertain society. Marquez Abella kept her camera close on her cast, all the better to unforgivingly register every increasing flicker of doubt on their faces, and if the effect was disturbing, well it should be. Music by Tomas Barreiro.

Aka: Las niƱas bien

[Click here to watch on MUBI.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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