Sounds Like Love is my first Juana Macias movie. And in reading the criticisms about her work, it seems like those previous gave some characters more to do than others. That’s not necessarily the case here. This is a movie with one protagonist and her two friends where the script gives each character enough to do. The first character is Jime (Elisabet Casanovas), who stalks and has an attraction to skater guys. The second, and the movie’s real protagonist, is Maca (Maria Valverde), a Madrid based late twentysomething who isn’t over her first real boyfriend who ghosted her, Leo (Alex Gonzalez). Which, um, same. The last is Adrina (Susana Abiatua), desperately bringing back the spark within her loveless marriage.
But okay, let’s focus on Maca, because Leo returns to Madrid to take a tenured work as a professor. They go to each other’s work places to humiliate each other, and this can go a few places. That discussion feels spoiler-y. So instead I’ll write about a recent trend that I noticed when it comes to these romantic comedies. I mean, they vary in quality. But it took a year for the genre to transition from himbos to bad boys. And that archetype makes the will they won’t they dynamic in rom coms more interesting here. What’s equally interesting is its soundtrack, a mix of English and Spanish songs.
I’d like to paraphrase Dolly Parton in writing that there’s a lot of effort to making a romantic comedy. And this one borrows from more unconventional examples of the genre, or even other genres to have its innovations. There’s a cartoony aesthetic here, and there are seamless flashbacks between Maca during the present day to the one featuring her younger self. That younger self pops up even if there are nice people around her like Raquel (Eva Ugarte), who has no hard feelings for Maca even though she’s Leo’s new girlfriend.
Laura Sarmiento’s adaptation of Elisabet Benavent’s novels also mainly succeeds because of Maria Valverde, who has more to do here than play the wife like she does in Exodus: Gods and Kings. Here, she has to sell a lot of concepts and succeeds. Another thing she sells perfectly is reluctantly agreeing to go to dinner with the man who broke her heart and criticizing the thesis that she reluctantly agrees to read for him. She then tells him to focus less on theory and more on emotion, which is not how theses work, normally. The movie even requires her to do fourth wall breaks a la Fleabag, and she does that here will less snark and more sincere vulnerability.
Outside of the three friends and their romantic interests, the archetypal supporting characters get their equal share of screen time. Some of those characters have an effect on Maca even when they’re off screen. Of course, it’s not a romantic comedy without a romantic comedy job. Maca’s just happens to be a member of the humanities student to PR pipeline. She works for Pipa (Miri Perez Cabrero), an insufferable influencer who yells at her offscreen. As someone who has been around influencers, they’re nicer but yes, they’re just as vapid as this movie depicts them. This movie is trash, so am I, but I’m just happy to find a first Netflix international movie that I like.