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THE HEIRESSES

★★★

AN ESCAPE FROM THE GILDED CAGE OF PRIVILEGE

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
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By Jake Watt
14th April 2019

Middle-aged lesbian couple Chela (Ana Brun) and Chiquita (Margarita Irún), both descended from wealthy families in Asunción, Paraguay, have been together for over 30 years. Recently, their financial situation has worsened and they begin selling off their silverware, expensive crystal glasses, and other inherited possessions. When their debts lead to Chiquita being sent to a women’s prison on fraud charges, Chela is forced to face a new reality.

Chiquita had been the dominant personality in their relationship (running the household, instructing the maid and taking care of the money), and Chela finds herself in an increasingly empty house without much to do. When an elderly neighbor, Pituca (Maria Martins), asks her for a ride one day (kidnappings involving taxis are apparently common in Asunción), and insists on paying her for it, Chela finds a new vocation.

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Driving for the first time in years, she begins to provide a local taxi service to a group of elderly wealthy ladies as they do old lady things, like going to the hairdressers and meeting for card games.

As Chela settles into her new life, she encounters the much younger and flirtier Angy (Ana Ivanova) when she drives her mother to medical appointments in nearby Itauguá. Chela begins to forge a fresh and electric new connection with the casually sensual Angy.

The debut film of writer/director Marcelo Martinessi, ‘The Heiresses’ is essentially about how social hierarchy can be its own form of confinement. Chiquita is sent to debtor’s prison when she loses her wealth, but that loss allows Chela to finally begin to break out of her gilded shell and engage with the world, embarking on her own personal, intimate revolution. Brun, a theatre veteran who had never acted onscreen before (like almost the entire cast), turns in a guarded yet tremulous performance.

The debut film of writer/director Marcelo Martinessi, ‘The Heiresses’ is essentially about how social hierarchy can be its own form of confinement.

Aided by cinematographer Luis Armando Arteaga's use of widescreen to emphasise the limitations of Chela’s world and darkness to articulate the faded glories of Chela and Chiquita’s diminished lifestyle, Martinessi’s ‘The Heiresses’ is a delicate exploration of sexuality, ageing, class, and privilege.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 23/05/2019
RUN TIME: 1h 35m
CAST: Ana Brun
Margarita Irún
Ana Ivanova
Nilda Gonzalez
María Martins
Alicia Guerra
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Marcelo Martinessi
PRODUCERS: Sebastián Peña Escobar
Marcelo Martinessi
www.theheiresses.com.au
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