March 26, 2010

I don’t want to talk about it (Maria Luisa Bemberg, 1993)

In the film, which precedes her sudden death in 1995, Maria Luisa Bemberg explores the same themes as in her most famous movie, Camila. There are numerous similarities between the two films. First, they both take place close to the beginning of the 20th century, a romantic time in the public consciousness, where most Mexican soap operas are set. Both movies involve high-class society: in Camila, a wealthy heiress runs off with a priest and is executed for it; in I don’t want to talk about it, a wealthy woman is concerned about her daughter’s dwarfism and intends to shield her from her condition at all costs. The church plays an important role in both films also: in Camila, our heroine runs away with a priest; in I don’t want to talk about it, Leonora’s confidante is the town’s priest, Padre Aurelio. There is also a similarity in lighting style. In Camila, the use of bright light and contrast filters contributed in creating a soft, romantic almost surreal atmosphere. In I don’t want to talk about it, that light scheme is again used to convey the melodramatic atmosphere.

But, essentially, Bemberg uses the melodrama as a way to criticize societal conventions. In the movie, Charlotte, afflicted by dwarfism, is considered less than human by the townsfolk. Her mother, in an effort to protect her from their society’s judgmental stance, outlaws the mention of Charlotte’s condition – an attitude which gives the film its title. Chuck Kleinhans successfully remarked melodrama’s appeal in his Notes on melodrama and the family under capitalism:

In melodrama, our interest is not in the gradual exposition and development of a character’s personality and decision making, but rather in the direct portrayal of the social-psychological situation itself in its artistically disguised, but relatively “raw” form.

That’s where Bemberg chooses to concentrate her attention not on character psychology but rather on the Argentine society’s psychology and from that, from her criticism of high Argentinean society, she discourses on society as a corrupting agent.