Review: MUCH BETTER THAN YOU Is The Best Latin American Sex Comedy Of The Decade
It's maybe the first time in the history of Chilean cinema that a sequel works and might even be considered superior to the first film of a projected series. In this case, the original film by young director Che Sandoval was called You Think You're The Prettiest... (But You're The Sluttiest), which was about a young Chilean man who wandered in the night in the search of sex, just to never find it, was a funny collection of vignettes about the night life of Santiago de Chile.
In that 2009 film, one of the funniest moments was when our protagonist talked to, and then stole the hat of an older man, who was also in search of a one night stand. This new film, Much Better Than You, is the tale of how the night of the older man with the hat turned out. That man is nicknamed "Naza" (played by Chilean film director Sebastián Brahm), who has recently gone through a mental breakdown.
As he goes from bar to bar, then to wandering the streets, the film in a way mimics the structure of the the original film. Here though the subjects are less adolescent and more adult, even though the attitudes of the protagonist are most commonly associated with that of a horny 15 year old... practically proposing to anything that moves, asking for prostitutes (but paying the most miserable amount possible), or following women to their apartments in the hope that they are looking for the same thing as him.
The principal matter that transcends in between the constant wandering, that continues through the night and into dawn and most of the morning, is that his wife has made the decision to leave and go to Spain, where an ex-boyfriend will meet her. Since he doesn't approve of the trip, nor to the decision of his wife taking their children with her, he wanders off trying to get some kind of revenge by sleeping with another woman.
He at first doesn't achieve this, and when given the opportunity he shies away from it, hence he isn't only a horny bastard, but he's also a coward, not able to really grow out of his thirst and actually do something about it. It's a complex character to be sure, but also in the way he speaks about his beliefs, especially his objectification of women makes him feel the worst person in the world.
The exploration of the adult stuck in adolescence has been an interesting angle to broach in the last few years of cinema (let's take a look at Simon Pegg in The World's End as the most recent example), especially when this character is actually a failure at everything that he tries to do. He has an image of himself as the coolest dude, and hence the title of the movie (in Spanish, "Soy mucho mejor que voh"), where his own superiority makes him unaware of his mediocre status as a human being.
In a sense, the film is also better than its earlier installment because Sandoval has a more controlled way of shooting the film. His visual language is tighter. The earlier film was, in a way, the way that the director had to demonstrate his abilities when he came out of university. This is a more mature work that can finally be seen by everyone in Chile. It was one of the best Chilean films of last year (premiered at BAFICI 2013, where I saw it), and it can be seen in most theaters this week in Chile.