In Asunción, Paraguay, a wealthy older couple are faced with financial crisis after Chiquita (Margarita Irun) is served with a prison sentence. Her partner, Chela (a riveting Ana Brun), is a nervous introvert upon whom the brief separation weighs heavily. When Chela is persuaded to give lifts in her car for a group of local women, the glamorous Angy (Ana Ivanova) begins to disrupt the older woman’s careful existence.
Brun’s performance as Chela is astonishing, and the relationship between her character and Ivanova’s flirtatious Angy is beautifully observed. Moments of humour are always at hand to lift the (often bleak) tone: over a glass of wine, Chela is faced with the all-too-familiar position of the gay woman with a straight crush – listening to Angy tell story after story of awful, disappointing men, Chela smiles patiently, the barest hint of her exasperation on her face. These lighter moments are welcome in a film which depends upon mostly visual storytelling. The threadbare dialogue is merely a nod to real life, while the cinematography and acting do the real communicating.
The Heiresses is host to many of the facets that draw us to (or perhaps put us off) independent foreign cinema: self-conscious cinematography, slow pacing and minimal exposition. To see a film about gay women which does not depend gratuitously on sex or nudity is more surprising, and the film explores queerness without having to label itself a film about lesbianism. Importantly, all its speaking roles (aside from two overheard lines) are for women.
Director Marcelo Martinessi presents a film full of shadows and solitude, but through it comes a delightful, playful humour, which dances perfectly between the bleak and daft moments of everyday life. It’s a quiet, beautiful film, which joyfully explores its theme of attraction and love among women.
CAST: Ana Brun, Margarita Irun, Ana Ivanova, Nilda Gonzalez
DIRECTOR: Marcelo Martinessi
WRITER: Marcelo Martinessi (screenplay)
SYNOPSIS: Chela and Chiquita are both descended from wealthy families in Asunción and have been together for over 30 years. But recently, their financial situation has worsened and they begin selling off their inherited possessions.
We greatly appreciate that a preview screening of this film was provided by Thunderbird Releasing.