TIFF 2022: Our Review of ‘Vicenta B.’

Posted in TIFF 2022 by - September 16, 2022
TIFF 2022: Our Review of ‘Vicenta B.’

Vicenta B. isn’t necessarily a slow film but it’s more like a film without any arcs. Or maybe it does because in fairness, there is an uphill part of this rollercoaster. The titular character (Linnett Hernandez Valdes) is a Cuban faith healer who’s normally good at her job. She tries to get a sense of normalcy after her son Carlitos’ (Perdo Martinez) eventual departure. She attends to her clients, but when she tries to read their cards she sees nothing. It doesn’t help that she still gets referrals, one of them going really sideways. That referral ended up trying to die by suicide which leaves her in a coma. Vicenta tries to help the family out and notices there’s something wrong with that family too.

It’s always good to see world cinema, especially films from the Caribbean, but unfortunately the discourse about this film and cinema from the ugh, global south has been very condescending. It is equally difficult to find the balance of championing world cinema anyway while writing that this specific example isn’t very good. Ingratiating within the family Vicenta inadvertently harmed doesn’t work so she goes inward. Hernandex Valdez offers a great performance here and tries to show Vicenta’s humanity, but one can only do so much in presenting a character that is, when one thinks about her, narcissistic. The aesthetic here is great, an examination of human and Cuban decay. But the film’s male gaze feels inescapable and detracts from its goal to be ‘respectful.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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