Lucia (Silvia Novak) is a mother to two adult children. Rebecca (Paula Edwards) brings her husband, Octavio (Benjamin Gorrono) to live with her as they are in financial trouble and Lucia’s son, Antonio (Mario Olivares) has a drinking problem and is constantly asking his mother for money.
However, Lucia has decided that she wants to live on her own terms and while she’s having an affair with Octavio, she also enjoys dangling the promise of inheritance in front of Antonio, while she spends it on the most extravagant things.
Lucia’s marriage to her children’s father, Silverio (Ricardo Herrera) has also left him in tatters. However, the question is how long Lucia can go on living the way that she does until her children take matters into their own hands.
Pelícano is a Chilean arthouse film written and directed by Gustavo Letelier, adapted from August Strindberg’s classic tragic play, The Pelican. It tells the story of a family on the edge of ruin, told with all the heightened drama that an audience may come to expect from such a tale, but thankfully never going too far over the top.
By using black and white scenes and colour, Letelier’s update on Strindberg’s play shows the audience a story told in reverse, with the colour scenes being told in the present and the black and white telling the story of how the audience finds the family at the start. There are even times when both scenes intermingle to show how close the past is catching up and how different characters are affected.
All the cast play their parts very well, particularly Novak as the self-absorbed matriarch who revels in the drama and chaos around her as she lives her life without a care. There are some scenes that may be a little confusing to some people who may be new to the arthouse genre (such as Antonio’s drunken oboe playing).
However, if the audience just goes along with it then they will be satisfied by the film’s melodramatic finale. Tragedy never looked so good and was never done quite as stylishly as Pelícano.
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