SXSW 2011: QUE PENA TU VIDA (FUCK MY LIFE) Review

Todd Brown, Founder and Editor
Javier Fernandez is having a bad year. Once a bright young up and comer in the advertising world he lost his job when his parent company shut down. He's unemployed, out of money, and at risk of losing his house and car. He may have to move back in with his mother who, frankly, is a little bit crazy. This is bad but it's not what's really bothering him. No, Javier's real problem is that he wants Sofia back. It's that he realizes he made an enormous mistake by dumping her months ago but now she wants nothing to do with him. And it's eating him up.

After going the exhausting big budget route for his sophomore film - the effects heavy superhero comedy Santos - writer-director Nicolas Lopez returns to smaller, more intimate territory with his third effort, Fuck My Life.

Lopez aims here to create a romantic comedy that accurately reflects the life of characters who would likely be his peers were they real and he mostly succeeds. By focusing the film more on his characters than on goofy rom-com set pieces - though there are some of those as well - and integrating the realities of twenty-something life in a way that feels organic he drops us into the world of Facebook and Twitter and SMS without any of it feeling like a gimmick. His depiction of the way social networking technology affects and intersects with real world social life is as accurate and effortless as I've ever seen on screen.

Javier's world revolves around two woman. There is Sofia (Lucy Cominetti), the ex he just can't get over. And there is Angela (Andrea Velasco), who has been his closest friend for years. Given that these are the only two sane women in the film you know Javier's going to end up with one of them but it's the question of which and how he's going to get there that drives the story. Along the path to arriving at that answer are Javier's mother and her total lack of social boundaries, the food obsessed previous ex Mariana, the crazy cougar proving a point to her ex, the seizure prone hyper-fertile model, and others.

Ariel Levy delivers a perfectly fine performance as Javier but the film's most serious flaw also happens to lie with that character and the simple fact that we never meet the Javier that Sofia fell in love with and that has inspired such ongoing loyalty from Angela. We get the obsessive and self absorbed Javier only and while it's not at all difficult to understand how someone could end up so obsessed with a woman like Cominetti, a bit of time actually allowing us to like this guy or understand why he broke up with her in the first place would have gone a long way.

An enormous hit in Chile - so much so that Lopez is already at work shooting the sequel - Fuck My Life is a remarkably authentic rom-com for twenty somethings from one of Latin America's most talented commercially minded directors. While a little more balance in the characters would have added some emotional depth to it the film is a fun little ride for what it is.
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