The Heiresses – Film Review

Sixty-somethings Chela (played by Ana Brun) and Chiquita (Margarita Irún), long-time friends have shared their lives together for over 30 years. Chela is a quiet character, quite acquiescent to her excitable friend. Their relationship is an intriguing one: Chiquita is a dominant force while Chela almost disappears into the surroundings, rarely speaking. One wonders if she is unwell.

Both are descendants of rich families, but they have now fallen on hard times. They need to pay spiralling debts by selling off items around the house. Sometimes most beloved items. Random strangers come into their house to inspect and pass judgement on the way they live. But still it is not enough to sustain their expectant lifestyles. Ultimately the financial situation proves untenable, and convicted of petty fraud, Chiquita is sent to prison.

Suddenly, Chela must fend for herself but this new freedom is a relief. To bide her time, she finds purpose in running a neighbourly chauffeur service for local wealthy women. She strikes up a number of new friendships, mostly with Angy (Ana Ivanova). It’s a friendship that has the potential to spill over into something more. If it weren’t for the unexpectant early release of Chiquita.

A knowledge of Paraguay and its class system would go some way towards getting the full richness of the landscape in which this story is set.

The director, Martinessi: “There is a Paraguayan writer, Gabriel Casaccia, who is perhaps my strongest influence in trying to portray the Paraguayan bourgeoisie. His first novel was published in the 50s, when our literature only narrated heroes. … he took away from the Paraguayan characters the pretentiousness and gave them humanity in return. Something similar is being done now with Paraguayan women, through the construction of an imagery that places them in the role of heroines … strong and resilient.”

The Heiresses opens nationally on Thursday 23 May 2019 at Palace Cinemas. Check the website for local screening details.

3 stars

About The Heiresses

Written and Directed by: Marcelo Martinessi
Stars: Ana Brun, Margarita Irún, Ana Ivanova.

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