One of the great poet-philosophers of our time once wrote: “No es amor / lo que tu sientes se llama obsesión / Una ilusión en tu pensamiento / Que te hace hacer cosas / Así funciona el corazón.” Indeed, bachata king Romeo Santos’ profound reflections on the pain of unrequited love are so universal they almost seem to have inspired a new Argentine thriller sweeping local box offices entitled Abzurdah. Or not. But it is a film about love that turns to obsession that turns into stalking that ultimately turns into self harm in the form of an eating disorder. Basically a filmed version of “Obsesión.”
Directed by Daniela Goggi and based on a best-selling novel by Cielo Latini, Abzurdah tells the semi-autobiographical tale of a girl named Cielo who meets and falls in love with a man 10 years her senior via a primitive, late-90s version of the internet. (It’s a period piece.) A passionate affair ensues, but Cielo is promptly snubbed by her lover when he gets starts getting all weird and stops picking up her phone calls. Honestly, who hasn’t dealt with that at some point? But Cielo doesn’t take this so well, and turns into kind of a creepy stalker before taking her obsession to extremes of self harm.
Distributed by Disney-Buena Vista, Abzurdah is an interesting addition to the diverse panorama of Argentine film production in its confident straddling of both the box office and the arthouse, and it seems this gambit has paid off: Abzurdah finished off last week at second place in the Argentine box office, right behind the Dwayne Johnson disaster flick San Andreas (known in Spanish by the terribly prosaic title Terremoto). This weekend’s receipts helped it beat out other well-received national films, making it the most successful Argentine film of the year, and the most seen domestic movie directed by an woman in the last 20 years.
Playing like a Porteño take on Fatal Attraction, Abzurdah has been almost universally hailed above all for the strength of its performances, and the trailer also gives a sense of the slick visuals and high production value of the film. Some reviewers, however, have expressed disappointment at what essentially turns into a PSA about eating disorders after about an hour of well paced dramatic tension. Hopefully Abzurdah will make it to the States soon enough so we can judge for ourselves.