With a background in cooking, Roberto attempts to hold down a job at a local restaurant but finds his young sous chefs’ trifling banter, unenthusiasm, and lack of experience wholly dispiriting. His daughter meanwhile, enrolling at a new school, seems to have been absorbed into a new friendship clique, but a rather foolish indiscretion on a weekend away with them leaves her a social pariah, and the subject of increasingly savage bullying. This visceral ordeal Alejandra undergoes is in sharp contrast to her Father’s apathetic mourning. Mendoza plays his character as fatigued and listless, a man for whom life lumbers on rudderless. But it is the incessant needling of his daughter that’s the most discomforting thing here. Franco reminds us that, as frustrating as Alejandra’s detached inaction in the face of her tormentors is, for many, this is the reality of persecution.
As an audience we sit in front of screens watching the action unfold, urging the crumbling protagonists we see to galvanise themselves. It’s easy to assume certain narrative directions just wouldn’t happen, or that certain characters would be more proactive in the face of their own desolation. Yet Después de Lucia manages to build upon, up to and including its shocking climax, the banal and unassuming way in which life unfolds with mathemechanical indifference.
Words: Ash Verjee