Sometimes you just have a really bad week, or month, or year. In Litigante, the sophomore feature from Colombian writer-director Franco Lolli, Bogota single mother and lawyer Silvia is really going through it: she's raising her son on her own (with help from her best friend Sergio); her mother's cancer has returned, and it's terminal; to top it all off, the government department that employs her as a legal officer has been swept up in a corruption charge, which she must front publicly on behalf of the company.
Litigante is a character study of one world-weary woman, played with expert resilience by Carolina Sanín, a non-professional actor who is Lolli's cousin. This casting decision by Lolli is genius; Sanín hits every emotional beat with a lived-in comfortability, communicating decades of this character's past through her tired, hopeful eyes. Lolli's own mother Leticia Gómez plays Silvia's mother, and the two have a volatile and painfully recognisable relationship, while younger sister Maria-Jose (a lovely Alejandra Sarria) plays peacekeeper. The characters communicate through naturalistic, affecting dialogue, and share a common love for Silvia's beautiful son Antonio. The family dynamic is so beautifully drawn that even the tiniest moments of love and attention had me welling up.
While Silvia goes through some major developments in Litigante – namely a sweet relationship with radio host Abel (Vladimir Durán), who she first spars with during a tense interview, but later meet-cutes at a party – Litigante doesn't deliver the major catharsis viewers might be hoping for. It rather acts as a telescoped window into one woman pushing against the odds to keep her head up and love her son the best way she can. In that regard, Lolli succeeds; while it doesn't do anything similar films haven't done before, Litigante nails the way life just happens sometimes, illustrating one woman's struggle to stay afloat with authenticity and grace.
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Cast: Carolina Sanín, Leticia Gómez, Vladimir Durán
Director: Franco Lolli
Running Time: 95 minutes
Rating: M (adult themes)
Verdict: An authentic portrait of one woman struggling to stay afloat
When: Screens again July 25, Academy Cinemas, 11:30am; July 31, Academy Cinemas, 6:30pm