Cine Las Americas Review: Las Plantas
A slow-developing look at desire and intimacy through the lens of fear and pop culture is how “Las Plantas” (directed by Roberto Doveris) represents this explicit and dark coming-of-age story. Seventeen-year-old Florencia (Violeta Castillo) sees her independence from parental supervision come at the same time she is left as the sole caregiver of her brother Seba (Mauricio Vaca), who is in a vegetative state. As she takes on the responsibilities of feeding, bathing, and changing her older brother’s diapers she also begins to explore drugs, cosplay, online hook-up culture, and the fear of her own desires. The uneasiness of Florencia’s situation is amplified through the meta-narrative of an Argentine comic book titled “Las Plantas.” The comic book explains how plants’ souls can migrate into the bodies of sleeping humans so that they can fulfill their darkest desires.
This narrative builds discomfort throughout the film, especially through the use of the film’s sound design, strong blowing winds and creaking plant sounds take over the audio in certain scenes and even dominate the visuals. Florencia beings to wonder if human souls can migrate into plants and this idea of two-way migration creates unanswered questions about the role of Florencia’s silent brother as another “plant” that could possess her. The film’s strong sexual content highlights youth culture’s struggle to find intimacy and to fulfill desire. The duality of Florencia’s relationships with her vegetative brother and the men she casually interacts with online put on display the fractured nature of romance in the XXI century. The distances kept between the protagonist and her emotional and sexual partners frame the isolation of finding oneself, while the narrative of the comic book “Las Plantas” inserts a sense of fear and uncertainty into being able to even trust one’s own emotions and desires.
Although the film “Las Plantas” is actually uncomfortable to watch and may leave more questions unanswered than resolved, it eerily brings up the idea that sometimes we feel possessed by our own desires and unsure how to pursue them. The film takes an almost surrealist tone in order to develop the troubled process of finding emotional and sexual intimacy for young people in Chile and around the world.