The Good Girls (original title Las niñas bien) is one of the most critically acclaimed films on the 2019 Moro Spanish Film Festival program. Mexican director Alejandra Márquez Abella brings a simmering rage to this portrait of an ostentatiously wealthy woman who falls from favour with her high-society set when her husband’s business runs into trouble during Mexico’s economic crisis of the 80s.
The Good Girls shares some common ground with another recent Mexican film, 2019 Best Foreign Film Oscar winner, Roma. While they are set in different decades – the former in 1982, the latter in the early 70s – both contrast class-based lifestyle differences and highlight inequities between rich and poor in Mexico City. But whereas the primary focus in Roma is the lowly hired help of a rich family, The Good Girls trains the spotlight on a coterie of pampered socialite wives of successful businessmen, in particular the queen bee, Sofia (Ilse Salas – excellent).
Sofia’s main claim to cudos with her rich gal pals is her exclusive designer clothing, the sources of which she will not divulge. Indeed, 80s haute couture is a feature of the film, coming in for some stylish and affectionate cinematographic showcasing throughout, with the elegant Salsas taking centre stage. She even manages to dazzle in shoulder pads.
With the live-in hired help looking after the children and attending to all domestic chores, Sofia has nothing much to do but shop, play tennis at a posh club followed by drinkies and gossip, and go to piss-elegant parties at the opulent abodes of her rich set. However, when the Mexican economy gets the wobbles and her husband (Flavio Medina) oversees a catastrophically bad deal that sinks his business, cheques start to bounce, her reputation suffers, and her fine-feathered friends begin to desert her.
While Sophia’s situation is not without pathos, writer/director Alejandra Márquez Abella undercuts any sympathy we may have been developing for her with a savage and quite shocking ending in which he gives full vent to the disdain he has for her and others of her ilk.
For all the glamour of its lead character and her cohorts, The Good Girls is driven by a simmering rage at the vacuousness, snobbery and excessive privilege of the monied class and the injustice of the divide between rich and poor. The ending aside, it does not reach the dramatic peaks or emotional intensity of Roma, but is well worth chasing down. See it at the 2019 Moro Spanish Film Festival – odds are it won’t make it to the local film circuit, so catch it while you can.
Movie Website: http://www.luxboxfilms.com/las-ninas-bien
Australian release date: The Good Girls is one of the films featuring in the 2019 Spanish Film Festival program. The Festival runs in Perth at Palace Cinema Paradiso from Wednesday 24 April to Wednesday 15 May.
Details on films programmed and times of screenings here.
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