Lest you think that this is a story about flowers and fragrances, let me
dash the image of the title by dousing it in cold reality. It tells the
tale of a teenage girl with social problems, a very close best friend, and
rape. This is not pretty and doesn't smell so nice.
Yessica (Ximena Ayala) enrolls in a new school in Mexico City after being
expelled from her old one for slapping the principal. Her matter-of-fact
admission of this to the class is not the only odd thing about her behavior,
which seems slightly against the social grain. The one positive development
is her close companionship with classmate Miriam (Nancy Gutierrez) but,
despite near dependency on her friend, her actions are somewhat south of
Miriam's better living standards are evident by the glee with which Yessica
visits, her joy at taking a bath in a tub, her happiness of her feeling of
elevation in the world. So, you'd wonder why she goes poking around where
she shouldn't, finding a role of bills in Miriam's mother's makeup box, and
a rather radical submission to her urges.
In contrast, Yessica's home is one of near deprivation and serious problems.
Her step-brother wants her to "play ball" with his boss El topi (Cesar
Balcazar) in order to make some money. When she refuses, this cretin assists
in her street capture and rape, using the money earned to buy new shoes.
Now, Yessica has even more reason to act out, knowing that any complaint she
makes is likely to come back on her, hence the subtitle, "Nobody Listens."
She tells Miriam, seeks a return to happiness, steals a bottle of violet
perfume from a street vendor and lets her best friend, Miriam, take the tap
and pay the costs.
Ayala is fascinating in the role, not exactly pretty, but fascinating to
watch in the erratic characterization. Her bold energy takes hold and
demands sympathy, even while she does things most of us would reject on a
moral basis. Somehow, she makes you want her to work her way through her
peculiarities as though they're little more than teenage issues.
Unfortunately, that's not where she, and this film, are going.
Though I can't reveal the ending, I'm forced to say it takes a strange path
that, instead of finding a resolution, introduces a whole new dimension to
the plot line. To say it's a downer is an understatement. It takes the
essential world it creates of heartbreak, defenselessness and personal
disaster to a whole new level.
Director Maryse Sistach adopts a style of modest naturalism, which helps feed
the impression of truthfulness and understatement, probably helping to
explain why it has touched so many in the Latin world since it was made.
Despite its unrelieved seriousness of tragic proportions, it has been ringing
bells of recognition, having won over 20 international awards including 5
from the Mexican Academy and was the Mexican entry for Best Foreign Language
Film Award in 2002. It also claims to be one of the top 15 Mexican Box
~~ Jules Brenner