Antigua vida mía

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Antigua vida mía (2001)

 3 de mayo de 2001

The cast gathers four artists with a certain reputation and the director, Héctor Olivera, has quite a reputation in the local cinema himself. However, Antigua vida mía turns out to be what is already known as your average shallow, predictable, uninteresting Argentine film.

The poor result probably has to do with basing the movie on a novel by Chilean writer Marcela Serrano. Olivera has often chosen to draw from literary sources: he surely did better with texts by Osvaldo Bayer (La Patagonia rebelde), Osvaldo Soriano (No habrá más penas ni olvido) and Roberto Cossa (La nona) than with this branch of the publishing industry now so in vogue, often degradingly described as “books for women” (some place Serrano’s novels under the “books for the beach” category, a label no writer would be proud of).

Thus, the story focuses on two women in her forties and picks at least three “womanly issues:” friendship, career, motherhood. Not to forget the plot’s punch, which also provides the necessary quota of mystery: an abusive husband and a murder. Of course, when handled seriously, these are important, thought-provoking topics which can make great stuff for both fiction and non-fiction works. This film is not the case.

Shot in Buenos Aires and in the small town of Antigua, Guatemala, Antigua vida mía seems to be more intent on providing the female characters with colourful clothes and settings than on building their respective personalities strongly, or treating their conflicts in depth. The stereotypical Violeta and Josefa go through the motions as passionless as if they were starring in a puppet show. Their husbands are reduced to little more than shadows. And the problem doesn’t exactly appear to lie on the performances.

The feeling is that characters content themselves with ennunciating the facts. “My mother left me when I was young and went to Guatemala to carry out the revolution.” “I’m 41 and want to have a baby.” “We’re best friends.” “My husband beats me black and blue.” If a film is to revolve around these sort of circumstances, they can’t just be conveyed in the form of statements – nobody will believe them, or care about them.Antigua vida mía also features Alfredo Casero and Diana Lamas. If you’re curious but patient, perhaps you’ll catch it on the Volver cable TV channel in a couple of months.