The Heiresses

Initially this film was released in 2018 and made the rounds of festivals. As the Paraguayan film went on momentum built. Rightfully so as first time actress Ana Brun is incredible in her tricky role. Her character does not speak much so most of what she has to convey is with her body, face and eyes. Tricky even for an experienced actress. There is a depth there which you don’t often get. We totally understand what is not vocalized, what his going on largely inside of her head.

Kudos also to director Marcelo Martinessi as he has to navigate the balance between the slow pace and the building of tension. He juggles drama and humour with a light touch. The best films make you feel like they are almost like documentaries. That you are a fly on the wall just watching the lives of others unfold. You don’t feel manipulated by the person behind the camera. Even though things are going slowly there is an energy there which draws you in.

Though their present life does not really reflect that, long time partners Chela (Ana Brun – first film) and Chiquita (Margarita Irun – Felipe Canasto) come from upper class origins in Ascuncion. Now they have fallen on hard times. Money is scarce. Neither seem to be working. To make ends meet they have been forced to sell off their inherited possessions. Furniture, silverware, etc. all go.

The situation becomes even more precarious when Chiquita is informed she must go to prison on fraud charges due to a debt. This leaves Chela on her own for the first time in over 30 years.

With only their newish maid Pati (Nilda Gonzalez – Head of Class) to help her out, Chela’s life is going to change. She even begins driving again, something she has not done in years. This despite the fact that she does not have a license. One thing leads to another and she begins to make a bit of money driving older ladies from the neighbourhood around like a taxi service.

Her new endeavour leads to her meeting the much younger Angy (Ana Ivanova – Luna de Cigarras) and the two forge a connection. This new friendship seems to go a long way towards revitalizing Chela. Showing that even at her age, a person can still change their life.

Some might claim that they were bored by this film. These are the types who are only satisfied by things blowing up or superheroes flying through the air. Agreed, this is not a film for everyone. It kinda reminded me of Oscar Award winning, Alfonso Cuaron directed, Roma. The two films might be seen as slow by some. Rather it is a true depiction of a slice of life. Real lives. Real stories. This is life. This is the pace it moves at for most.

Slow and quiet throughout, like the two lead ladies, there is a kind of fading elegance to it. Rough around the edges, wrinkled, but totally involving. Despite the pace there is a tension built up throughout. I could not help but wonder what was around the corner for Chela.

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