(Tan de Repente)

Directed by Diego Lerman. 2002.

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Marcia (Tatiana Saphir) is a heavy-set woman who is stuck in a dead-end job selling underwear in a lingerie shop that attracts few customers. Rejected by her fiancé after a two-year courtship, she goes through the motions of living. Her world is turned upside down, however, when she is kidnapped at knife point by two sullen, ice-cold, look-alike lesbians named Mao (Carla Crespo) and Lenin (Veronica Hassan) who tell her how much they want to have sex with her.  

Based on the novel La Prueba by Argentine writer Cesar Aria, Deigo Lerman’s Suddenly is a fascinating examination of power struggles in relationships that takes us to unexpected places - suddenly. Filmed in 16mm black and white by cinematographers Diego del Piano and Luciano Zito and reminiscent of Jim Jarmusch’s episodic style,

Lerman’s first feature has, according to the director, “contradictions reveling in contradictions”.  

The film contains moments of comedy but these are undercut by a mysteriously sinister air that keeps us guessing as to where the film is headed. Marcia is scared but does not attempt to run away and seems curious about their overtures. The tough young women highjack a taxi and drive Marcia to visit Lenin’s seventy-year old Aunt Blanca (Beatriz Thibaudin), who lives in Rosario, a seaside town near Buenos Aires with her two tenants, the shy Felipe (Marcos Ferrante), a Biology student and Delia (Maria Merlino), a painter and part-time teacher. Aunt Blanca in a fine performance by Thibaudin, is one of the few sympathetic characters in the film and her unconventional warmth allows Lenin to connect with the value of relationships. 

When Marcia tells Mao that she enjoyed being with her, she tells Marcia to shut up and go to sleep. Mao is an unpleasant bully who, after consummating her relationship with Marcia, neglects her and rudely shifts her interest to Felipe. Passive to the end, Marcia does not stand up for herself or try to leave. Felipe seems bewildered by the girls but supports Mao in a shoplifting spree without considering the ramifications. Suddenly is a strangely involving film that shows great promise by the director but the lesbian butch women are caricatures that detract from the film’s message, which after all is quite simple - when people are finished playing ego games with each other, what is left is love. 


Howard Schumann
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