The Guest / La Visita

I really didn’t know how to feel about this movie. It was interesting and well done, with some lovely cinematography, but I had a hard time connecting with the characters—especially the main character Elena, who rarely emoted and was a total cipher. So my initial impression was not too positive.

But then I wondered if I was missing the point: that maybe the real story is not about Elena, but all the zany dysfunctional goings-on in the household and she was mostly an observer. Maybe. Or maybe there are layers here that I don’t get because I’m not familiar with Argentinean queer cinema.

Or, maybe I’m overanalysing. That’s been known to happen.

Still, I can only judge what I see on the screen, and I can only relate my honest reaction. And honestly, I’m not feeling this movie. I really wanted to get to know Elena—the title character, after all—but I had nothing to work with. We learn nothing about her, her life, her past, or what makes her tick. We only see Daniela Vega emote a couple of times, but both those times were very powerful and spoke to me of Elena’s love for her family mixed with very ambivalent (at best) feelings for her past and religion. I really wish we could have seen more of that.

Aside from that frustrating aspect, the movie was quite fun. This household was full of repressed Catholic stereotypes, but they worked: the cheating husband, the crazy grandma in the upstairs bedroom, slutty maids, loony kids, and nobody can come out and just say anything frankly. They all have to tiptoe around their feelings, and announce friendship or reconciliation by giving out articles of clothing or something.

Not enough, though. I really wanted to cheer for this movie, because how often do we get to see a trans actress playing a trans character? But without a protagonist to anchor it, the movie just didn’t come together for me. Oh well.