Venezuelan movie. Perla (Diana Peñalver) is a former pageant “miss” who is living through her daughters Carolina (Fabiola Arace) and Estefania (Josette Vidal). She pushes them to compete against each other, with Carolina as her favorite. Meanwhile, her son Salvador (Fabián Moreno) is neglected. The sibling rivalry continues into adulthood when Carolina and Estefania compete to be Miss Venezuela. The contest culminates in a bloody showdown.
One of the most striking things about the movie is its theme of how women are devalued and objectified. Perla tells her girls flat out that their appearances are the most important thing about them. She teaches Carolina to vomit after eating, and locks up all of the food. Then there is Cosme (Francisco Denis), the head of the pageant, who weighs all the contestants, and he calls those who are slender by even U.S. standards gorda. He forces contestants to have plastic surgery to be eligible to compete (prompting Perla to rationalize, “Don’t you know that plastic flowers don’t wither?”). Cosme literally makes the contestants pieces of meat, classifying them as “tenderloin” or “spam.” One woman in particular, who is taking diet pills, gets diarrhea, mood swings, and tachycardia; she finally just keels over and dies foaming at the mouth.
On an aesthetic level, the cinematography is gorgeous. I like also how Carolina and Estefania’s roles as the favorite are shown by their clothes. When Carolina feels good about her appearance, she wears frilly pink clothing, and when Estefania is jealous of her, she wears white; the outfits continue from childhood on, and emphasize how much impact their roles have on their lives. In the images below, look how anyone not getting Perla’s immediate attention fades into blurriness.
I was also impressed by Carolina’s love scene; it’s hard to make them original and memorable in the movies, but this one succeeds. Carolina and her lover Chino (Diego Guerrero), who’s a mechanic, are in a garage full of cars. She ducks away from him into a car, and after he follows her, she goes out the other door and into another car. Finally their climax makes a car alarm go off, and then all the cars in the garage are ringing.
The movie is classified as a comedy/horror, but it’s not scary per se. The horror is quite subtle, with a focus on comedy and a really creepy ending. Here’s the trailer–oh, and for those of you who don’t know Spanish–learn! (I stole that joke from Paul Rodriguez.) Just kidding, there’s an English one too.