2009 // Spain - Peru // Claudia Llosa // November 20, 2010 // Theatrical Print (Landmark Plaza Frontenac Cinema)
There's a surfeit of lush sensory pleasures in Peruvian writer-director Claudia Llosa's arresting new feature, The Milk of Sorrow, enhancing the film's potency as a bracing portrait of emotional isolation. Born in the era of Shining Path terror, the timid Fausta (Magaly Solier) has surrounded herself with a moat of reticence and vigilance, especially when it comes to men. Most shockingly, she has taken rather... extreme measures to dissuade rapists. However, the death of her elderly mother acts as a catalyst, forcing the girl into the wider world that she has long shuttered herself against. Llosa's command of the frame is masterful, and she remains resolutely focused on humane details while using the arid Peruvian landscape to fine effect. The film is full of striking images: a demolished piano littered with colored glass; hands plucking scattered pearls from a bathroom floor; a procession of dancing wedding guests with their gifts held aloft. Such remarkable visuals provide a wondrous aesthetic substrate for Llosa's heartfelt, distressing (and at times comical) tale of a woman's emergence from her cocoon of fearfulness. The director presents even the story's most outrageous details with startling conviction and esteem, acknowledging both the terrible power of trauma and the warm, amusing qualities of everyday life.