Last night was the New York premiere of Fernando Sariñana’s film, Niñas Mal, at the Hola Mexico! Film Festival. Imagine the typical teenage girl rebel…throwing fits and complaining whenever she doesn’t get what she wants. Well, the protagonist of the film, Adela, played by Martha Higareda, is just like that, only ten times worst. She rebels against her fresa upbringing, dressing like a punk, with tattoos and getting arrested, lacking any type of basic social skills with anyone, except for her like-wise rebellious friends. The worst part is, she has absolutely no desire to change, but..surprise! She has to. You see, if she doesn’t change, her dad, who is running for governor of Mexico, will loose the support of one of the key political figures of Mexico. So, the story begins to take a drastic change as Adela gets stuck in the only remaining charm school in Mexico, where young ladies are molded into elegant, well-behaved, and perfect housewives.
Up until then, the plot of the film appeared to be too stereotypical. However, when Adela enters the charm school, this is where things start getting pretty clever and actually, very emotional. Adela’s lack of social skills are put to test as she has to eat, sleep, and wake up with the teacher Maca Ribera, and the four other girls enrolled in the school. Maca, played by Blanca Guerra, seems to be the ultimate domestic goddess, but in her attempt to transform Adela into a suitable daughter for the governor, she starts to show her true, witty, and often deep side. The interaction between her and Adela seems to evolve. At first, you see them clashing over and over again, to the point where it seemed Maca would have a heart attack at any moment. But then, it turns out Adela and Maca are more alike than they would have ever thought. It is through Maca that the former problem child seems to slowly start finding herself, and while she does that, she begins to open up her feelings and let people in her life.
A priceless aspect of the movie is Adela’s interaction with the other girls. Each girl brings a little spice to the movie as they are all so different. Ximena Sariñana’s character, Valentina, is very peculiar and introverted at first, only to later open up about being gay and an aspiring musician. Camila Sodi, (in real life, Diego Luna’s wife and baby mama and also Thalia’s niece), plays Pia, a very smart girl whose whole life revolves around economic books. Then, there’s Maribel, played by Maria Aura, who is the typical dumb, naive but nice mommy’s girl, and finally, we come to hate Alejandra Adame’s character, Heidi, a snobish little princess who talks only about her fiance, Kike Van Der Linde (Victor Gonzalez), and how she needs to become the perfect wife for him. Somewhere in the middle of the malicious tricks that Adela drops on Heidi, intense fights between some of them, and very personal, touching conversations, you come to understand, love, hate and even identify with the characters.
One of the downsides of the movie, however, was that the acting was not exceptional. It seemed that some of the characters overplayed their role and exaggerated their emotions, which ultimately, did not make them very credible. Nevertheless, a superb plus to the movie is the soundtrack, where you’ll hear everywhere from Los Amigos Invisibles, Sin Bandera, and Natalia y la Forquetina, to Ximena Sariñana’s own “Como Soy.” So although there will be no Oscars for “Best Actor/Actress” coming from this film, the music makes up for it. Maybe it won’t be the best, one-of-a-kind, eye-opening movie you’ll ever see, but at least the film will provoke a mixture of feelings: from frustration, and anxiety to an inexplicable sense of relief and pure bliss.
Niñas Mal is showing again this Saturday, July 26th , at 9:50pm at the Quad Cinema.