Lima Film Festival Review: The Heiresses (Marcelo Martinessi)

Chela (Ana Brun) and Chiquita (Margarita Irún), a couple of women past 60, live in an affluent suburb of Asunción, Uruguay. However, they are forced to sell family heirlooms to cover their expenses, while hiding from their social circle the reality they now face. Until for reasons of fate, Chiquita is sued by a bank and is imprisoned for fraud. Chela remains alone and between visits to Chiquita in prison, discovers in her old Mercedes-Benz a way to earn some income: her neighbors ask her to take them to their poker meetings, and so begins another world for her, where she confronts everything and, more importantly, who she is.

It is a modern portrait of Latin American society, of the decline of its bourgeoisie, of the virtually nonexistent presence that women have in it, and especially of the purulent lethargy, in which we see how women are at the mercy of a culture which is motionless and sexist.

A global and social vision that is articulated from the confinement of two characters, two mature women, one locked in jail for indebtedness and the other trapped in a golden cage that collapses. We are talking about a romantically close couple who have always had to hide their love and sexual orientation, constantly surrounded by women who have always been subject to materialism and fulfilling their status as trophies. Its balance breaks, the dome to which they belonged enters a decline. Their fictitious comfort is diluted, forcing them to confront the subjugation of this harsh reality which their privileged social condition always permitted them to avoid.

The Heiresses gives an intimate and immediate look by the quietest gestures, and invites us to see our entire continent. It is within this context that our protagonist Chela is pushed to embark on a late process of internal transformation, to break with years of darkness and a society that prefers to remain closed, clinging to its own shadow. And we witness it through the sober camera work and the careful photography of Martinessi’s debut. Where its inheritance is probably not so much money and opulence, but the wounds, open and unhealed, caused by the forgetfulness of time.