Perfume De Violetas
Opens January 10, Cert 15, 90 mins
Although set in the same urban sprawl that emblazoned Amores Perros and Y Tu Mamá También, there's no hip veneer to this tale of Mexico City's underclass. Tomboy Yessica (Ximena Ayala) and timid Miriam (Nancy Gutiérrez) are lost in the first flush of adolescence, revelling in the thrill and support they offer each other and getting up to the kind of mischief enjoyed by teenagers anywhere in the world. The girls' harmless experiments with boys and make-up take a harder edge, however, when Yessica is raped, an action that prompts a descent into betrayal and inevitable tragedy.
Marisa Sistach's disturbing film of bruised youth and mistrust is strongest when concentrating on the friendship of the girls—Ayala in particular gives an audacious, feral performance—but becomes less sure as that relationship starts to unravel. Even as the subtlety dwindles, though, recurring motifs—of scent, of the foreboding ring of a telephone—offer a reminder that there is a deft hand at work. It's a difficult and uncompromising watch, but while without the cool satisfaction of recent Mexican features, still deserves a wider release.
Rating: 4 / 10