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La Veronica

Director - Leonardo Medel - 2021

"Greasy movie"
Chilean director takes a very dark look behind the facade of a manipulative social media celebrity - from the Taipei Film Festival

The life goal of Chilean WAG and social media starlet Veronica can be easily quantified: “I need two million followers!”. This is what it takes in order to become the face of Beaut Lipstick, and this obsession overrides every other part of her life, be it family or friends.

La Veronica opens with the progressively more unlikable protagonist returning to Chile after years in Dubai with her footballer husband and their baby. The reference to a stint in the United Arab Emirates is a nice touch, since this is where many a waning South American player cash-in for the last years of their careers. But shallower still is Veronica‘s fixation with her Instagram account.

It quickly becomes evident that her agreeable social media persona does not correspond with her extremely unflattering private one. Mum of the year material she is not, furthermore failing to act like a responsible adult even to her husband’s cousins. An ongoing police investigation into events of her past runs parallel to a steadily deteriorating domestic life as her obsessions take centre stage.

Formalistically interesting, as well as underlining the main character’s narcissistic personality disorder, every shot of the film is a medium close-up zeroing in on Veronica. The other characters drift in and out of frame, often only present through voices. It helps then, that Mariana Di Girólama is excellent throughout as the eponymous Veronica.

This formal choice is also referencing the me-obsession of “influencer” culture, with the other characters’ visual representation a stand-in for how unimportant and peripheral they are from the main character’s narcissistic point-of-view. However, this device does wear a bit thin over the whole runtime and perhaps could have been reserved for the Veronica-as-public-persona scenes as distinct from the private Veronica scenes. In any case, a thematically on-point way of portraying the story.

Some narrative choices may confound viewers unfamiliar with the strict class hierarchies of Chilean society, but on the whole La Veronica is a competent, if depressingly grim, character study of modern-day narcissism.

La Veronica showed at the Taipei Film Festival. It originally premiered in 2020 at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

"Greasy movie"

By Truls Rostrup - 08-10-2021

By Truls Rostrup - 08-10-2021

Truls Rostrup lived (and enjoyed film festivals) in Buenos Aires, Tokyo and Taipei. Original...

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