Amores Urbanos (2015) feels out of place among the rest of the movies selected for the Cine Las Americas Film Festival. Most of the films tell the stories of silenced or marginalized characters, people that at least in the US do not receive much screen time. Because of this, director Vera Egito’s film about three 30-somethings living in relative comfort in a wealthier neighborhood of São Paulo does not initially seem like a story we should care about. Julia, Mica and Diego drink a lot, complain about their love lives, check Instagram and (sometimes) go to work. With other films telling the stories people with much more openly difficult lives, one could feel guilty about choosing Amores Urbanos over other movies.
That would be missing the point of the film. Eventually, the seeming frivolity of Egito’s characters begins to make sense. For the first three quarters of the film, they never slow down, because they can’t or don’t know how. Life is lived like scrolling through a newsfeed; this becomes clearer as the references to social media add up. Important issues like homophobia and an abusive father are mixed into joking debates over preferred genitalia. A trip to get an abortion is given as much attention as posting the perfect picture of baked goods. The excessive drinking starts to feel less like irresponsible partying and more like self-medication. More than following three pseudo-adults as they live the good life, Amores Urbanos looks at how the world has changed, how young people attempt to adapt, and how some are left behind.
While there are moments in which the film begins to veer into Girls territory, Amores Urbanos made me do something that never happened in the two or three episodes I’ve seen of the HBO show– feel for the characters. Even Julia’s naive realization of her own privilege comes off as genuine as possible. There is an impressive chemistry between the three protagonists, making the viewer want to hang out with them even as their lives fall apart. Those who don’t want to hear about the struggles of «hip» São Paolo may be turned off by the film, but Egito’s storytelling and the actors’ performances make Amores Urbanos worth the watch.