Like most of my film viewings during Cine Las Americas, I have tended to go into these films mostly blind to not have any expectations up front and just let the film do its job. Wow, did that really work in this film’s favor!
Review by Nathan Garza
“Las plantas,” getting its name from a comic that the main character reads in the film, is about a young girl, Florencia, who takes care of her older brother while her mother is in the hospital. Her brother, being in a vegetative state, needs help with every part of his life and this is Flor’s first time providing all the help by herself. At the same time, she’s trying to handle being a normal teenager and hang out with her best friends, and she gets carried away with her newly found sexual exploration with online strangers.
Flor finds a comic, The Plants, that she reads to her brother and it becomes to consume her entire life. The premise of the comic involves the souls of plants coming to life in the middle of the night to act as humans when everyone else is asleep. While reading all these comics about plants coming to life at night, she seems to have hope for her brother, in that maybe he’s conscious somewhere deep down and maybe there’s even a way to pull him out of this state with the help of her comic guiding her along the way.
With such a fantastic story in her head, and doing anything she can to help her brother, she starts to see things that can only be described as some sort of surreal Scott Pilgrim-esque world where she’s neither fully conscious or asleep dreaming. The abstract blend of real-life and imagination comes at strange times and constantly kept me on my toes with if what I was seeing was really happening or a part of her imagination. There are also several scenes where with panning shots of the woods or looking up into the sky through the trees. These felt like showing the trees as characters in their own right, instead of just exposition shots. It was a good break to keep the viewer unaware if maybe this film was going to take a dive into fantasy and actually show trees coming to life, like Flor’s comic book.
The other major theme of the film, Flor’s growing sexuality, comes from her and her friends teasing men online and then she eventually gets brave enough to invite them to her home and watch them pleasure themselves in front of her glass door. There’s definitely a sense of uneasiness at first, because we’re not sure if they are some sort of predators or really just there to stare at a girl through a glass divider. But I believe it was a way to show it was something she felt she had complete control over. She can’t help her mother, she’s trying her best to take care of her brother, but with each man’s attention–she really feels in charge. She gets to command them from the other side of the glass whether to remove their clothes or not. Aside from directly showing a teen’s sexual awakening, it was also a great way to add suspense into a film that might not have much otherwise.
This film was probably the most original I’ve seen in a long time: I loved it and had no idea what was going to come next. If I tried to guess, “Las plantas” not only took me in a different direction, but also in a different universe. The way the movie bends reality in a teenager’s coming-of-age story, really does feel like we’re experiencing Flor’s trepidation of the future right there alongside her. Director Roberto Doveris impressed me, and I look forward to checking out more of his work.
I’m definitely new to this whole writing thing, so forgive lack of eloquencies. I play a lot of video games and have more movie opinions than most people care to hear. In the process of leash training my cat so we can eventually go hiking together. You can follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @n842, learn about my new movie podcast Thoughts in the Can here, and my in-progress video game podcast Hard Mode here.