TIFF Next Wave ’19: Our Review of ‘Carmen And Lola’

TIFF Next Wave ’19: Our Review of ‘Carmen And Lola’

Carmen and Lola is a love story, its titular characters belonging to the Roma community in Madrid. That said, this is just as much about their community and families. It shows Lola’s (Zaira Romero) home life with her stern father Paco (Moreno Borja). He doesn’t allow her to go to the school trips that her white classmates go to. Their family does have some better news though, as Lola’s cousin is marrying Carmen (Rosy Rodriguez).

Carmen and Lola might as well portray Roma women as if their families lock them up, which is more true about Carmen than it is for Lola. It shows Lola tutoring children and she’s very good at it. It’s an indication that she probably shouldn’t end up like a shopkeeper just like her parents. Presenting Lola’s ‘differences’ in comparison to the rest of the community feels both odd and cliched at the same time.

There are also a few things about the way it presents Carmen and the rest of the Romas that are borderline offensive, despite writer-director Arantxa Ecchevaria’s seemingly good intentions. Carmen isn’t like the femme fatale that most European stories present Roma women. She, however, is aimless, bellicose and love crazy, which is a stereotype that most people apply to the young. But it feels more hurtful because she’s a member of an oppressed group.

And as I wrote above, this story doesn’t always feel like it’s about its two young protagonists. But when it is it finds itself in some missteps. It also hinges itself on the fact that Carmen is gay but she doesn’t know it yet. Lola is lucky that that ends up being true, but it’s a truism that only works in fictional stories and not in real life. Watching Carmen’s ‘recruitment’ feels damaging in this case.


  • Release Date: 2/17/2019
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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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