Alex Santiago Pérez’s feature film debut, Las vacas con gafas (Cows Wearing Glasses) is serious business. It’s about death and the little deaths we suffer on our way to the big one. Set in San Juan, Puerto Rico (which has never looked more beautiful), Cows centers on aging painter and art professor Marso (played by Daniel Lugo.) A few facts about him: he wears glasses, he smokes like he’s auditioning for Mad Men, and he wears what looks like a wedding ring on his right hand pinky. He likes to give orders, he lacks sensitivity, and he seems to spend most of his waking hours either in his picturesque office (where a Panama hat sits on top of his files) or in his art studio. He’s a colorful character who is diagnosed with a condition that is making his vision falter and could leave him blind at any given moment. Ouch.
The movie chronicles Marso’s emotional evolution and his growing need for human connection. In the trailer, we see Marso go from certified curmudgeon, to angry, to endearingly melodramatic. “The logical thing would be to consider suicide, right?” he asks as he twirls his fingers. In the end, he’s just a lost and scared human being looking at his reflection. Or is he? Those last seconds toy with me. I can’t tell if he can see himself or not. (You’re that good, Daniel Lugo.)