13 is the perfect age for female coming-of-age stories. It’s a time for many when the transition between girl and woman becomes increasingly apparent, and for Sara, the main character in Pepa San Martín’s Rara, everything seems to be changing all at once. Julia Lübbert is a great choice for the role of Sara; hanging between child and teenager, her behaviours constantly swinging between the invisible line that separates ages 12 and 13. Her body, interests, and relationships with her new families after her parents’ split develop throughout this naturalistic, often funny, occasionally deeply saddening film.
Sara and her younger sister Cata (played with great humour by Emilia Ossandon) live with their mother and her new female partner, Lía, and the film presents an intelligent and heartfelt examination of the modern family dynamic and external prejudiced reactions to it. Friends at school question and probe Sara; however this mostly feels like genuine curiosity, and Sara has space in the film to voice her own opinions on her situation, giving adolescent voices a chance amongst the more prejudiced adult figures that intrude on the film.
The details of arguments about custody between Sara and Cata’s parents are kept on the fringe of the film, as if seen and heard from the perspective of the children. This keeps the film bearably light, but also gives us a sense of injustice on the part of Sara, kept from being fully involved in the adult world, despite her beginning her transition into it.
A delight to watch, Rara takes its time to present a complex family full of three-dimensional characters. With naturalistic dialogue and plenty of sweet moments to balance out the drama, this is a touching look at modern family dynamics from the perspective of an almost-teenager.
CAST: Julia Lübbert, Emilia Ossandon, Mariana Loyola
DIRECTOR: Pepa San Martín
WRITERS: Pepa San Martín, Alicia Scherson
SYNOPSIS: Sara and her younger sister have been living with their mother and her new female partner since their parents split up. Their new family is scrutinised by the world around them.