Gabriel Rojas Vera’s brilliant debut feature, “Karen Llora en un Bus” [Eng. Title: Karen Cries in a Bus] is a simple yet beautiful study of a modern woman making her choices in life. The film is set in Bogota, but it could be any swiftly urbanising part of the world.
Karen decides to leave her well-to-do husband of ten years, she feels life’s passing her by, her aspirations and interests are but a fading memory after immersing into her role as home-maker. The film starts with a tearful Karen sitting in a bus with just her suitcase and handbag – she had already left home. She gets herself a room downtown and soon enough finds life very different to what she’s used to, from the Spartan amenities and furniture, to the difficulty in landing a job with no work experience to show. However, she doesn’t give up and refuses to seek help even during trying circumstances, after what little she had gets stolen. Karen, in her own words, has decided to repaint her life.
The refreshing part about the film is that Karen isn’t depicted as some kind of superwoman or martyr – she reacts and behaves just as anyone else from her social background might under the circumstances. But there is a virtue in her endeavour, even if she’s unsure of her purpose in life owing to low self-esteem. For a debut film, the script, also by Gabriel Rojas Vera, is pretty well written. We see some exceptionally talented young directors emerging from Latin America, and Colombia too seems to have its fair share. The cinematography is excellent, and the team seem to have made the best use of what little budget they had. Even the acting is convincing and well performed, especially the talented actress playing the protagonist, Ángela Carrizosa Aparicio. I’d be surprised if the film doesn’t pick up a few accolades along the way. There may not be any clever story to tell or cunning twists in the plot, but for me, this is without doubt the best Colombian film I’ve seen this year, and needless to say, Recommended Viewing.