Content Note: sexualized assault
Claudia (Andrea Henry) and María (Vanessa Hernández) are best friends, always sticking together. One night when they are out, Claudia finds out that María has a gun. Scared for her friend, she takes it from María without her knowledge and hides it. Later that night, the two find themselves cornered and assaulted by a group of men, and María reaches for the gun that isn’t there anymore. They both only barely escape before the men rape them. Deeply traumatized, both need to find a way to cope – but their ways of coping are very different indeed.
Pólvora en el corazón is an interesting film about a difficult topic that shows a little too much that it is a debut for Urrutia. But it is definitely good enough to give it a go.
Pólvora en el corazón takes a realistic approach to rape-revenge movies, giving us not the bloody power fantasies, but what would actually happen if anybody just decided to go for it. How inept and messy things would get and how ineffective so many attempts would be because the trauma just gets in the way of the revenge. So we see María seeking out her attackers one moment and freezing in the next. She is all over the place and obviously in a bad spot.
Claudia is much more restrained. She doesn’t want revenge, she wants to push it all down. She tries to file an official complaint, but unfortunately the police station ran out of paper. After that, she is done with the entire incident. Or she would be, if it wasn’t for María’s revenge attempts. Claudia may seem like she is taking things better, but really, we see two different coping mechanisms and neither of them particularly healthy or helpful.
The film is less interested in finding ways for María and Claudia to cope, though. Instead it looks at the way the incident puts pressure on their relationship. A relationship that was already cracked because Claudia is obviously in love with María, but María seems undecided, whether she is in love with Claudia, too. Maybe she isn’t even into women, who knows? Not María.
It’s an interesting angle, even if the film is rather depressing. But the film doesn’t quite get it right. There are some things that are a little too on the nose and some scenes that don’t really come together. It’s understandable – this is a debut feature after all – but coupled with the sad lesbian love, it left me feeling a little unhappy with the entire film. It will be interesting to see Urrutia’s next project though.
Summarizing: Not great, but good.