By: Addison Wylie

As soon as I found out Señoritas was the feature debut for filmmaker Lina Rodriguez, everything started making sense.

Señoritas reminded me a lot of Krivina and Tower, two indies I caught at TIFF two years ago.  Both films featured up-and-coming filmmakers taking on character studies and applying a drawn out pace.

What separates those two independent films from Señoritas is that they were building towards something.  Krivina applied a twist that completely changed an otherwise boring saunter into a product dealing with supernatural elements.  Tower ended abruptly, but it was oddly fascinating watching an antisocial loner convince others he was accomplished.

There’s no surprises like that in Rodriguez’s Señoritas.  The film is aimless, hoping its focus on silences, natural hang-outs, and everyday lulls will help display an organic display of young livelihood and sexuality.  By being able to draw that conclusion, Rodriguez – I suppose – has delivered, but too many scenes are expanded on and are in need to hear that  special three-letter word, “cut!”

We watch Alejandra (played by Maria Serrano) do…stuff.  She tries on clothes, we watch her dispute with her clinging Mother, and we watch her chill with friends – which later moves onto dancing, which later moves on to foreplay.

Serrano does a good job holding our attention and using quiet expressions to speak volumes.  Alone time with her drones, but her character is always elaborating and finding how to stabilize herself on her own two feet.

If the film had a direct comparison, Señoritas is Lina Rodriguez’s Kids.  Not only is it her first feature (Kids was Larry Clark’s first foray into feature films), but positioning the camera as an eavesdropping fly-on-the-wall is supposed to give the viewer a first-hand look at how young adults interact with each other.

This type of filmmaking works for plenty of filmmakers.  It worked fantastically for Larry Clark, who was able to make a scary observation of sexual carelessness.

Rodriguez is still learning how to be subtle.  Scenes are truthful and the actors deserve kudos for authenticating their roles, but these uncut sequences only remind us of how long the movie is, and how often the movie doesn’t have anything interesting to say.  Also, pitting the camera in awkward perspectives does too much emphasizing on how movie goers are supposed to be “peeking in”.

Rodriguez is also blunt with how she wants her audience to think of words like “real” and “sexy” during the protracted dialogue and close-ups on hands caressing bodies.  The more she leans her camera in, the louder her persistence gets to be.

Rounding this review out from where it started, Señoritas is done in by pitfalls usually found in a filmmaker’s budding career.  It’s heavy on unnecessary time filler.  You could leave and return ten minutes later, and not have missed a crucial crux or arc.  I can’t knock Señoritas too badly since Rodriguez and Serrano were usually able to communicate their objectives and traits.  But most of the time, watching Señoritas is like watching an episode of Girls on mute.

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