by Amelia Batho, contributing blogger
Written and Directed by Uruguayan director Martin Sastre, and adapted from the novel by Dani Umpi, Miss Tacuarembó is the story of Natalia, a girl influenced by 80’s film and television such as the film ‘Flashdance’. Natalia’s dream is to become a star, however brought up in the small Uruguayan town of Tacuarembo, her dream faces repression from a number of sources including her mother and the local church. The film jumps back and forth between young Natalia and her struggles back in Tacuarembó, and present day Natalia (played by talented Uruguayan star Natalia Oreiro) who has ended up working in a religious themed entertainment park.
The film is described as a ‘pop musical’ but this is not your classic musical.
Some parts of the film are just downright bizarre (Natalias duet with Christ towards the end of the film is particularly surreal!) There aren’t quite enough songs for it to fully embrace that musical feel and it isn’t supported by the polished choreography found in other musicals. The songs however, are very catchy – my favorite ‘El Perfume del Amor’, will definitely get your jazz hands going.
Nor is this film your standard ‘never give up on your dreams’ cheese fest.
Yes, the sentiment is there but the protagonist does not follow the conventional journey that we have seen so many times in other Hollywood films of this nature.
There are many underlying themes to the film as well, including a satirical look at reality TV and a slightly obscure look at religion. The portrayal of the Catholic church has been met with a lot of controversy from audiences – some people regarding the film as ‘blasphemy’ and many of the religious references as ‘disrespectful’– I’ll let you make up your own mind on that one.
On a technical note, the film looks great and this, in part, is due to the fantastic lighting. The dream like feel to many of the scenes is also enhanced through some interesting camera angles and abstract sets.
The cast is made up of actors from Spain, Uruguay and Argentina and interestingly, young Natalia was discovered through a Youtube casting campaign and chosen to play the part by a panel made up of Oreiro and Sastre. Larger than life characters also bring the film alive and Oreiro shows off her remarkable range by playing two very contrasting personalities.
My advice would be – have an open mind, embrace the bizarre and go and see this one with for some lighthearted fun!