– This masterfully directed third feature by Swiss-Peruvian filmmaker Klaudia Reynicke catapults us back to Lima in the early Nineties

Review: Reinas

Luana Vega and Abril Gjurinovic in Reinas

Presented in a world premiere within the World Cinema Dramatic competition of the Sundance Film Festival, and selected for the Berlinale’s Generation section, Reinas by Klaudia Reynicke is an intimate and dazzling film which depicts the memories of the director back when she was a child, forced, like her protagonists, to leave her native Lima behind her. Although Reynicke’s marked ability to reconstruct history-laden domestic worlds in minute detail has already been demonstrated in her previous film, Love Me Tender [+see also:
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, this gift emerges with even greater force in Reinas. Set in 1992, this third feature film follows a family composed of two sisters, Lucia (Abril Gjurinovic) and Aurora (Luana Vega), their mum Elena (Jimena Lindo), their “abuela” (Susi Sánchez) and their firecracker of a dad Carlos (Gonzalo Molina), who are all getting to grips with the painful departure of Lucia, Aurora and Elena to the USA. Caught between the need to escape the insecurity of their struggling country and a fear of abandoning the comfort of their habits, the young sisters are forced to come to terms with growing up.

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A partially autobiographical, coming-of-age-style movie, Reinas is imbued with the atmosphere of the era depicted: colourful clothes and voluminous hairstyles, houses full of objects which we no longer know how to use and a not-yet-virtual dating scene. With apparent lightness, the film captures memories, feelings, music and even odours which seem to have been frozen in time, watching and waiting for the right moment to reemerge. Having left Peru at the age of ten, Kaludia Reynicke has child-sensitive memories of her birth city and of situations which now only exist in the hearts of those who experienced them, and it’s this child-like sensitivity – the refusal to assess a situation rationally and the decision to allow oneself to be overwhelmed by a wave of hard-to-describe emotions – which the director conveys in her film. As stated by Lucia and Aurora’s dad at the end of the film: “the girls don’t really want to stay, they’re just afraid of leaving”.

The dangers inherent to the social and political chaos pervading Peru in the early Nineties might be real for the adults in the region, but for teenage Lucia and her sister Aurora, who’s still a child, the reasons for their departure are far less clear, as if life were nothing but a game to them. But when they’re arrested for daring to break the curfew, they soon learn that danger is no less real for being hidden. Unable to resign themselves to leaving, or to abandon their carefree attitude to take the path towards adulthood, both girls cling onto an everyday life which is slowly slipping through their fingers.

Despite the difficulties inherent to the disastrous political situation setting Peru apart at that time, which the film depicts without exploring possible causes, all seen through Lucia and Aurora’s eyes, the real protagonist of this story is the warmth characterising the family’s ties. The soundtrack, meanwhile – composed both of pre-existing pieces of an unmistakably retro flavour and three original songs composed (and sung) by the director herself together with Gioacchino Balistreri – settles upon the film’s images, like an affecting layer of dust on a family photo forgotten on a bedside table.

Reinas is produced by Geneva’s Alva Film, Peru’s Maretazo Cine and Spain’s Inicia Films, with The Yellow Affair heading up international sales.

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(Translated from Italian)





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