The Oscar-nominated Peruvian drama The Milk of Sorrow (La teta asustada) is about Fausta, an emotionally and sexually repressed young woman who has grown up with a psychological fear of intimacy following her mother's brutal rape. It's also about boring the audience.
Written and directed by Claudia Llosa, The Milk of Sorrow is beautifully shot, with vivid, gritty imagery and gorgeous cinematography. Technically speaking, the movie is great, and it's these merits that help elevate the material.
Unfortunately, the movie is too subtle and emotionally understated to keep the audience's attention. The lead character is distant, quiet and awkward and Llosa's production parallels those qualities, for better or worse. She does a masterful job of getting into the character's head; unfortunately, it's no fun once you're in.
Magaly Solier does a fine job as Fausta, but her character is so fractured she's actually obnoxious. Though the film is about Fausta's "rediscovery" of life, the journey isn't nearly as stimulating or as fulfilling as one would expect. By the end of the movie, Fausta still has such a long way to go the journey depicted in the movie seems inconsequential.
The Milk of Sorrow has plenty of good traits, but ultimately a movie needs to entertain. The Milk of Sorrow isn't entertaining or engrossing. Like its subject, the movie is similar to a smart but socially awkward student who dwells in the corner at a party; she might have an interesting story to tell but she doesn't know how to deliver it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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