The Milk of Sorrow [La Teta Asustada]

"Excellent"

The Milk of Sorrow [La Teta Asustada] Review


Infused with local colour, this Peruvian film finds real resonance in its light handling of a personal journey. Without overstating its themes or sentimentalising the drama, filmmaker Llosa tells a story we'll never forget.

Fausta (Solier) is a young woman raised in the shadow of a rural myth: after her mother was raped by terrorists in the 1980s, Fausta grew up on the milk of sorrow (the literal title means "the frightened tit") because her soul was so frightened that it buried itself in the earth. Now in Lima living with her Uncle Lucido (Ballon) and working for the wealthy Mrs Aida (Sanchez), Fausta is only just now starting to discover who she really is.

A vague touch of magical realism adds dramatic texture: the last vestige of Fausta's past is a potato inserted into her uterus to prevent rape. It's trying to take root, and doctors say she must decide what to do. Meanwhile, she goes about her work, helping with her aunt and uncle's wedding catering business and getting ready for a cousin's wedding. But along the way, she is redefining her own existence. And some of these lessons are pretty difficult.

The film' tellingly explores the Latino class system, as Fausta's Quechua roots contrast against the city's Spanish descendants. So when she meets a fellow campesino, Aida's gardener Noe (Solis), we can see that she's finally found someone she can trust and speak to in her native language. This element may be lost on viewers who rely on subtitles (and it's perhaps not necessary) but it adds an important layer to the film. And no one will miss the way she sings to express her emotions.

The performances bring out dark honesty, earthy humour and sharp irony. And even the side characters are full of personality. The depiction of Lima life--both in the city and the shantytown--is colourful and vibrant; the various weddings alone are worth the price of admission. And we also have the potent journey of the almost painfully timid Fausta, who starts to realise that maybe she isn't as invisible as she always thought she was. Llosa captures her tiny steps with beautiful photography and editing to quietly bring her to a remarkable catharsis.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Production compaines: Paris Film

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Claudia Llosa

Producer: Antonio Chavarrias, Claudia Llosa, Jose Maria Morales

Starring: Magaly Solier as Fausta, Susi Sánchez as Aída, Efraín Solís as Noé, Marino Ballón as Tío Lúcido

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