Sunday, September 24, 2017

TIFF 17 Film Review - April's Daughter

A study of a middle age woman that refuses to let go of her youth is at the core of Michel Franco’s film April’s Daughter. April (Emma Saurez) fresh of a strong tern in Pedro Almodovar’s last feature Julieta comes to visit her Puerto Vallarta summer home upon learning from her older daughter Clara (Joanna Larequi) that her younger daughter Valeria (Ana Valeria Becerril) is pregnant. Valeria had her suspicions thus did not advise her mom of the pregnancy but upon arrival April seems supportive and helpful. She immediately gets on Clara’s case about her weight and not having a boyfriend, spouts off about her new found love of Yoga teaching wanting to launch a You Tube channel with her and Valeria as instructors.

The screw begins to turn once April decides to drive hundreds of miles to see Valeri’s father with the pretext of requesting help with the impending child but also to fulfill an underlying need to upset his happy new home with a much younger new spouse.  There she meets former ally the family housekeeper. After the birth April becomes increasingly controlling leading to a severe betrayal of her daughter on two fronts as she takes outlandish steps to maintain youthful relevance.

Director Franco presents a tale focused on two mother daughter relationship where each participant is no as they initially appear. Valeria initially comes off as whimsical, selfish and self-absorbed while April is loving, supportive and understanding of her youngest daughter’s situation and wishes. The most intriguing character is Clara. She’s mute when Valeria and her boyfriend Matteo (Enrique Arrizon) openly flaunt their sexually charged relationship, tells her mom about the pregnancy despite her half-sisters open protests, endures blatant fat shaming but is part of a transaction that completely betrays her sister.

Emma Suarez turns in another fine acting performance as April.  She could easily pass as Clara’s older sister not being out of place when she goes shopping for clothes with a younger boy toy. She switches on a dime from being cheerful, playful and lighthearted to controlling, manipulative and cruel the next. Ana Valeria Becerril is sneaky tough as Valeria. She is way more resourceful, single minded and persistent that one would expect.
April’s Daughter is a story of betrayal and shattering of the most basic human bond of that between a mother and a daughter. The daughter seemingly with zero cards to play manages to work out the problem to solve the puzzle. The strong ensemble cast do not set a foot wrong in a film that I can recommend.

*** Out of 4.

April’s Daughter |Michael Franco | Mexico | 2017 | 103 minutes. 

Tags: Puerto Vallarta,Step Sisters, Yoga, Mexico City, Real Estate Agency, Beach House, Pregnancy, Adoption, Kidnapping.

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