Why do you have to see ‘Cerdita’?
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‘Cerdita’ has just been released and is already a phenomenon. It was predicted from Sundance. It was confirmed at the San Sebastián festival and has been corroborated during its time in Sitges. He has garnered applause and fans for his journey through festivals (and praise from directors like Edgar Wright either Sean Baker) and is not for less. Something was intuited given the background with which he started.
It was 2018 when the story of Carlota Pereda won the Goya for Best Short Film. That work, also titled ‘Cerdita’, was a 14-minute story that contained serious drama about the bullying. It featured Sara, a teenager who is bullied for being overweight. One day, after some girls assault her and steal her clothes in the pool, she witnesses how they are kidnapped. There was a dilemma, for her and the public that saw the short. What are you doing now? Shut up or speak? That character could not remain there, and the dilemma that she proposed had to be developed.
That’s why, ‘Cerdita’, the film, is not only a reflection on the bullying, That it is. It’s a warning about the side effects of bullying. Pereda makes good use of various genres for his feature film: high doses of thriller, succulent pills of black comedy and, of course, horror. Once again, there is no better genre to know ourselves, as individuals and as social subjects. at the blow of slasher, here delves into authentic fears, palpable within today’s society. Because there are few things as terrifying as the scene of those girls making fun of Sara in the pool.
The well-known (and dangerous) costumbrismo
Everything happens in Extremadura and the atmosphere is very recognizable within Spanish costumbrismo. The gossipy neighborhood, the family meals, the rural style is palpable. In addition, that oppressive heat inside is one more in the plot, a secondary that seems to be a co-participant in any crime. The film’s pastel palette oppresses the viewer. That and all the artistic direction redirects the viewer so that he feels the same overwhelm that Sara feels, because that is what he feels: that he has no way out. Neither in that town nor with her parents, some people with economic problems who are not aware that the girl needs more incentives than to lend a hand in the family business.
Sara is a victim on the street, but at home too. From the beginning of the footage it is shown that she is oppressed in her family environment. His parents’ butcher shop reminds him of his oppression (the film opens with close-ups of deli meats and steaks you can almost smell). The extra kilos are not the only thing that makes him feel ashamed, but also the counter where he spends the summer. The parents run this barely supporting business and pay no attention to their two children. People known to the family pass through that store, such as the girl’s aggressors. Having presented the family, the social environment and the population, something is clear: the girl’s very low self-esteem and how difficult it is for her to have solutions within her reach.
approaching the dark side
Like the short from which the tape starts, the plot begins with an act of poetic justice: the abusers become victims. And therein begins the great moral dilemma. What is Sara going to do when she arrives at her house scorched by the sun? Here the subtle script will present a series of humorous moments and others that are really disturbing.
The director has revenge prepared for her protagonist. Before getting here, history has raised an interesting parallel. The stranger who has taken the girls in a van is a serial killer (he has killed two more people). Here a very suggestive reading comes into play. At this point, the audience absolutely empathizes with the young woman: she has already felt, already heat stroke, the anguish that Sara is suffering. Against this background, the bad guy in the story has become his guardian angel. It has been a very paradoxical act given the mercy of it. For this reason, and also given his shyness, he keeps quiet about what he knows despite the fact that the family and the authorities insist (with a lot of black humor) on asking him what he knows about the disappearance.
On the other hand, the girl has “connected” with the kidnapper. He is the only one who has shown him some affection, becoming a hero by saving him from his villains.. A strange relationship has begun with him, one of the most interesting proposals in history. In her eyes, and almost those of the viewer, that unknown man is a kind of ally, something that raises several questions when talking about bullying. The relationship shows the dangers that sometimes involve cases of bullying: fall into the wrong hands to “save” himself. Let us remember that the protagonist does not have any external help available to her to get out of the pothole she is in.
Down with the normative body
Pereda empowers her protagonist, turns her into a true heroine. She is barely heard in the film – she speaks very little – but as she is seen in the plot, she will develop a new facet until she reaches a colossal outcome.
The conclusion will leave no room for doubt. Pereda provides a luxury ending for her protagonist. Sara will be triumphant in her own story, because this is also a coming-of-age. That beginning with meats and cold cuts presaged the end: the meat is now no longer stuffed, it is released like Sara herself and with a lot of spilled blood.