Hormigas (2019) **** Berlinale 2019 | Forum

February 10th, 2019
Author: Meredith Taylor


Dir.: Antonella Sudasassi Furnis; Cast: Daniela Valenciano, Leynar Gomez, Isabella Moscoso, Avril Alpizar, Kyrsia Rodriguez, Carolina Fernandez; Costa Rica 2018, 94 min.

Antonella Sudasassi Furnis has embellished her short film El Despertar de las Hormigas exploring the gradual emancipation of a seamstress who lives with her blokeish husband and two daughters in small town Costa Rica where the family is everything.

There’s pressure on all sides for Isabel (Valenciano) to have a third child – husband Alcides (Gomez) and his domineering mother talk of nothing else at a family gathering. But Isabel has enough on her plate: daughters Valerie (Moscoso) and Nicole (Alpizar) are demanding, and since Alcides is not much help, Isabel has to cater single-handedly for their needs. Then there is granny, who takes off with children one day, without letting Isabel know. She is livid, but Alcides sides with his mother: she only means well and wants to help. Still under the maternal cosh, Alcides is not a great provider: his casual work doesn’t  feed the family, and only Isabel’s skills with the sewing machine makes it possible for them to survive. Nevertheless, Alcides wants a son (sic!) and dreams about building a house for them all, despite not enough enough for the bare essentials. He life revolves around a macho group of men: when Isabel watches him playing football with relatives at another family event, she might as well be watching her own son. Best friend and client Mireya (Fernandez) is on the pill, because her doctor told her it would sort out her gynaecological problems. So Isabela follows suit, without telling Alcides. After a vivid dream where she runs her own business, she decides to make some changes.

Most interesting here are the family dynamics: and it’s the other women who are constantly on at Isabel to Isabel is procreate. Women are socially competitive, and vying with each other for children and wealth. But the couple’s sex life is dire: Isabel prefers to masturbate whilst her husband sleeps next to her, and when she is having sex with him, she looks at the ceiling, waiting for him to finish. Her great love – for the moment – is dealing with fabrics and designs, hoping to one day run her own shop.

DoP Andres Campos lets the camera follow Isabel every step, she is at the centre of every colourful scene, the panning shots capturing her very basis surroundings and transforming them into something special, a she dreams about her future. This might be a simple story, but the director has created a passionate and intense portrait of a young woman trying to break away from a suffocating family life. AS


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