Issa López’s Casi Divas is a send-up of telenovela culture with a serious case of social consciousness. Four young women from different areas of Mexico travel to the country’s capital to nab the lead role in the movie production of a popular soap opera. From an indigenous farming village to a hillside mansion, people flock to the TV set to see which one will become the next starlet. López’s point is clear: Popular culture is a sort of global religion, a place where both the wealthy and the underclass duke it out together. One contestant from Ciudad Juárez calls attention to the mass female abductions that plague her hometown, while in the movie’s most subversive thread, a local transsexual cunningly passes in the female-only auditions, befriending a frumpy reject from the rural Oaxaca region and giving her a transformative makeover of her own. Full of enthusiasm but short on wit or self-awareness, Casi Divas is pretty weak as satire. López doesn’t so much skewer celebrity culture as endorse its altruistic, multicultural potential. One hotshot producer says that “anyone can be a star,” and López seems to buy it: In the American Idol-style finale, everyone is somehow a winner, and each one’s hardship becomes a banner for the movie’s charity mission. While López is understandably praised for bringing foreign funding to a fledging national cinema (this film’s score comes courtesy of gringo Hans Zimmer), in doing so she also flatters white-liberal compassion. Characters are sketched as little more than PSA avatars for their respective political problems, and instead of channeling their frustrations through the language of the country’s telenovelas, they matter-of-factly address the camera in documentary style. That’s supposed to give Casi Divas gritty “authenticity,” but really it’s mass-market condescension.
- Maya Entertainment
- 107 min
- Issa López
- Issa López
- Patricia Llaca, Julio Bracho, Maya Zapata, Ana Layevska, Daniela Schmidt, Diana Garcia
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