The unravelling of ruling class illusions


The Good Girls (Las niñas bien)
Directed by Alejandra Márquez Abella
Starring Ilse Salas, Flavio Medina, Cassandra Ciangherotti
Showing nationally as part of the Spanish Film Festival

What is the connection between economic crisis and crises of individual psychology? This subtle Mexican film is as good a representation of it as you could hope for.

In the 1970s, the Mexican economy boomed by relying on easy access to US dollar loans. A dollar loan was like winning the lottery — effectively a coded expression for easy wealth. For Mexican capitalists this was a dream come true. 

They floated in a fantasyland of cheap domestic servants, expensive trinkets and social climbing. Women who married strategically could expect to live like princesses.

But it all came tumbling down thanks to the so-called Volker Shock of 1980, when the US suddenly raised Federal Reserve interest rates. The value of the Mexican peso crashed and with it went the life style of Mexico’s privileged.

This is all depicted through the limited world view of Sophia, whose life is a cream cake of parties and petty gossipy viciousness topped with a thick icing of entitlement. She has lived her entire life coddled by servants and barely knows how to dress herself. She doesn't comprehend or pay attention to TV news reports that portend her future. 

The storytelling is communicated by the almost imperceptible flicker of Ilse Salas’ eyes in her impervious face. Expect no florid explosions of histrionics in this movie, we are watching the unravelling of ruling class illusions.

Do the characters achieve an understanding of their humanity or is their inner bestiality all that survives? Wait for the final scene.

Anyone confused by events in today’s Venezuela should see this film. The insane hatred of the remnant oligarchs towards the Bolivarian Revolution is the same.