The Heiresses (Las herederas) (Edinburgh International Film Festival Review)

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The director of The Heiresses, Marcelo Martinessi spoke about how the film industry in Paraguay is very new and it only just forming. Baring that in mind, the film, having been developed in film labs, feels like it is part of a heritage and the actresses are veterans of the screen. Everything is naturally played out and feel effortlessly created.

After falling into debt, Chela and Chiquita, two middle aged women who have been together for years, end up having to sell most of their belongings. Their financial difficulties has put a strain on their relationship and the two drift further apart when Chiquita is accused of fraud and made to go to prison. Left alone, Chela but finds a way to keep busy by driving her older neighbour to a card game, where she meets Angie, a younger, more vibrant woman, who she develops a crush on.

The film takes a very delicate approach to how Chela conducts herself, with the class system in place Chela wants to remain respected, even as her possessions are sold off. Her relationship with Chiquita is difficult as financial problems can cause a rift. They seem to have loved each other at one point in their lives but now, as they get older, they have become part of a routine with one another, especially on Chela’s side, the less independent one. She finds a new lease of life when she begins driving (without a licence) and finds a friendship with Angie that soon becomes unrequited. Having always been driven by her partner, Chela enjoys her freedom and is obviously devastated when the prospect of losing the car becomes necessary.

With so many delicate moments, the women’s performances, from theatre actors and many non actors too, all had time to craft their characters. Ana Brun had earned great acclaim playing Chela and even won an award at Berlinale. With a general release coming to the UK later this year, this quiet masterpiece will be able to share it’s beautifully crafted story to everyone and not just remain a ‘Festival’ film.

Dir: Marcelo Martinessi

Scr: Marcelo Martinessi

Prd: Marcelo Martinessi, Sebastián Peña Escobar

Cast: Ana Brun, Margarita Irún, Anna Ivanova

DoP: Luis Armando Arteaga

Country: Paraguay

Year: 2018

Run time: 95 minutes

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