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SAN SEBASTIÁN 2019 Velodrome

TV series review: Perfect Life

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- Leticia Dolera writes, directs and stars in eight lively episodes that bring us up close and personal with three women in crisis, in all their unfiltered, delusional and conflicted glory

TV series review: Perfect Life
Aixa Villagrán, Leticia Dolera and Celia Freijeiro in Perfect Life

A pregnant woman who lets out the odd fart, carries a pool float around with her so she can sit down without martyring herself to haemorrhoidal misery and apologises, mortified, after doing a poo in mid-labour. A lesbian painter, channelling Jane Bowles (or perhaps Debra Winger in Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky), takes MDMA to get through a friend’s daughter’s birthday party and, in her altered state, attempts to seduce one of the other mothers. A married woman with two daughters secretly gulps down her birth control pill, despite her husband’s grim determination to impregnate her with a longed-for son, who will be named Rafa (as in Nadal). Three women, subtly drawn with flashes of wit and not a trace of compunction: the heroines of the new series created and co-directed by Leticia Dolera, who also stars. Perfect Life scooped the Best Series Award at this year’s Canneseries festival and will be screening in the Velodrome as part of the 67th San Sebastián International Film Festival, ahead of its debut on Movistar + on October 18.

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It would be a cold soul indeed that didn’t instantly warm to these disarmingly honest women, perpetually reminding us just how daft, ridiculous, sensitive and mercurial they are — freaks like all the rest of us, in other words. Dolera, who made her directorial debut with 2015’s Requirements to Be a Normal Person [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, returns to her favourite fixation: what does it mean to be “normal”? This time, she delves a bit deeper, asking, does the life that society holds up as the sanctified norm really guarantee happiness? Dolera explores this question (and others) with her own special blend of acerbic commentary, humour and insight, as a convivial and often hilarious cast dig into their bawdy, brazen roles with relish. Inviting us to leave our preconceptions at the door, the ensemble tackles such hot topics as sexist micro-aggression, the consecration of motherhood, fidelity, the stagecraft of social media, unconventional families, political correctness and the (myriad) pressures of modern life.

No review would be complete without paying tribute to the superb work of the cast, led by Dolera herself, Aixa Villagrán as her sister Esther and Celia Freijeiro as her BFF Cristina (the trio were rewarded with the Special Performance Prize at Canneseries). The three leads benefit from charismatic support from the likes of actor/director Fernando Colomo, Carmen Machi, David Verdaguer and Enric Auquer, last seen in Paco Plaza’s Eye [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Paco Plaza
film profile
]
for an Eye, who takes on one of those characters that could easily come across as pitiful and pulls it off with authenticity, humanity and warmth.

Dolera directs only four of the eight episodes, entrusting two to fellow actress/filmmaker Elena Martín (star of Les amigues de l'Àgata [+see also:
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trailer
film profile
]
and director of Júlia ist [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Elena Martín
film profile
]
) and two to Ginesta Guindal (who cut her teeth in advertising before going on to direct the TV series Heavies tendres). The handover makes for a somewhat uneven rhythm and tone with some episodes failing to live up to the promise of the others, but overall it’s an engaging, charming and, above all, unpredictable series, offering plenty of laughs along with a lot of food for thought. The sound track doesn’t disappoint either, coming courtesy of a predominantly female line-up, including Mónica Naranjo with the unforgettable Sobreviviré.

Perfect Life, a series in eight parts, was created by Leticia Dolera, who co-wrote each 30-minute episode along with Manuel Burque (who also appears in a supporting role). The series was produced by Telefónica Audiovisual Digital, SLU and Corte y Confección de Películas SL. Movistar+ is handling sales, with Beta Films in charge of distribution.

(Translated from Spanish)

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