Young Chilean director Marialy Riva spars with religion and ingrained attitudes towards sex in her country through the drama “Joven y alocada” [Eng. Title: Young and Wild].
Narrated through a precocious teenager’s astonishingly detailed blog entries, we follow the sexual and spiritual exploits of seventeen year old Daniela (Alicia Rodríguez), daughter of well-to-do evangelical parents in urban Chile. Daniela’s mother (Aline Küppenheim) watches over her zealously to prevent any hanky-panky, but Daniela, in deference to her innocent looks, has been sexually active from a very early age, and of late has even been experimenting with threesomes. After one indiscretion too many, she’s dismissed from school, and the furious mother punitively takes away Daniela’s privileges and forces her to intern at an evangelical TV station, hoping that’ll keep her off the thought of sex. However, Daniela will get to meet a colleague Tomás (Felipe Pinto), and will embark on a tentative relationship, which will grudgingly be accepted by her mother, thanks to intervention by Daniela’s terminally ill aunt (Ingrid Isensee). Daniela also makes friends with Antonia (María Gracia Omegna) – the niece of the TV station’s owner, and before long, they become lovers. There is high drama when Tomás and the mother learn about Daniela’s lesbian affair through the very blog she’s maintaining. And in between all this, Daniela will want to get formally baptised…
The film highlights the hypocrisy among the older generation who force-feed youngsters with religious dogma to further their own agenda. In trying to depict the damage done to youngsters’ self esteem and their own spiritual growth, it criticises a church system that hasn’t succeeded in making itself relevant to the modern world. Heavy stuff – all this, but I couldn’t help feeling that Ms. Riva may have taken on more than can be accomplished given the scope of the screenplay, which is unravelled mostly through Daniela, whose level of insight is no greater than your average teenager. Because it is hard for someone like me to see this from a Chilean or Latin American perspective, I’ll have to take it the way I see it. And this is it – if the film is aiming to address the grown-ups, I’d be surprised if it succeeded at all – themes in the film have been tackled forcefully and even more convincingly before by European directors such Maurice Pialat.
The film also aims to explore an adolescent trying to make sense of her hormonal urges, but it doesn’t get down and dirty a la Catherine Breillat, relying instead on the temerity of the protagonist’s frankness in her voice-over narration. There is also a problem with the characterisation, which as is so often the case, reflected through mediocre performances. Perhaps I might have missed a nuance or two in the translation or the Chilean accent, but that shouldn’t have impacted the film as heavily as this does. However, I’ll have to give the benefit of the doubt to Ms. Riva for making an honest attempt at a rather ambitious undertaking.
The Nudity: Alicia Luz Rodríguez with María Gracia Omegna, and Felipe Pinto
There are several instances of nudity and depiction of sexual acts in the film – mostly tame, apart from some stylised stock footage used that show explicit sex. Alicia Rodríguez, María Gracia Omegna, and Felipe Pinto appear nude during some of the scenes.