Reinas

****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Reinas
"A confident and well-constructed tale that is built on the firm foundations of a great ensemble cast." | Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

The opposing forces of reconnection and separation create a tension that runs through Klaudia Reynicke’s family drama. Elena (Jimena Lindo) is on the cusp of relocating herself and her two daughters, teenager Aurora (Luana Vega) and the younger Lucía (Abril Gjurinovic), from the turmoil of early-90s Peru to the US, although the older girl, in particular, is less than keen on the idea.

Before they can leave, the children’s estranged father Carlos (Gonazalo Molina) has to sign the relevant paperwork leading him to re-enter their orbit just as they are about to exit his for good. Reynicke, who, writing with Diego Vega, draws on her own emotional experience of leaving Peru as a 10-year-old. They treat this situation in a nuanced way, so that even if Carlos has become something of a stranger to his children he is not presented as a monster and Elena is gently encouraging in terms of his reconnection with them.

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The relationship between Aurora and Lucía is developed through the sorts of moments all sisters experience, from taking it in turns to sit nearest to a fan to sharing confidences and sticking with one another when push comes to shove. Aurora has a specific reason for wanting to stay in Peru so the sudden potential of going to live with her father is an attractive and unexpected option, even as Lucía would rather move with her mum.

Molina keeps Carlos endearing, even when he is making bad decisions. Driving a clapped-out Lada, he runs an ad-hoc taxi business, although he tells the girls he’s a spy. The emotions on display have relatable clarity, whether it’s the joy the girls express as their dad takes them speeding across the sand dunes or the low level anxiety emitted from Elena as she begins to worry that Carlos won’t sign the papers.

The politics of the period is also present without being overstated. With inflation raging, Reynicke shows through Carlos that barter is often a better way of getting by than payment. The idea of going out during the night-time curfew also generates a palpable fear among the older family members but when Reynicke and Vega bring it into the equation, they do so in a way that justifies those feelings without slipping into melodrama.

A confident and well-constructed tale that is built on the firm foundations of a great ensemble cast, Reynicke gives equal weight to everyone’s experience, showing how the family bends and flexes to accommodate its opposing forces so that they go forward into the future together even if that might mean being apart.

Reviewed on: 23 Jan 2024
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Surrounded by social and political chaos in Lima during the summer of 1992, Lucia, Aurora, and their mother, Elena, plan to leave and seek opportunities in the United States. Their farewell involves reconnecting with their estranged father, Carlos, adding turbulence to the regrets, hopes, and fears of their emotional departure.

Director: Klaudia Reynicke-Candeloro

Writer: Klaudia Reynicke-Candeloro, Diego Vega Vidal

Starring: Susi Sánchez, Gonzalo Molina, Luana Vega, Jimena Lindo, Abril Gjurinovic

Year: 2024

Runtime: 104 minutes

Country: Switzerland, Peru


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