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La Verónica

Verónica has a big aspiration in life: To gain 2 million followers so she can become the beauty company Beaut's next icon. But in the process of achieving that goal, she also jeopardizes her marriage and family life.

I'll be honest, when I saw the description "Her life falls apart, one post at a time.", I thought it would be an annoying excercise in portraying shallowness in such a flashy manner it would feel like nothing more than a vanity piece, kinda like The Bling Ring.

But when I was finally forced to give it a chance, it turned out to be have much more brimming under the surface. You see, Verónica is not just an attention seeker, she's a vacuous sponge who drags everyone down with her in the process. No matter whether it's a friend or a family member, if she's not able to use them to the benefit of her popularity, they're worthless to her. Everyone has to conform to her standards instead of the opposite.

Her relationship with husband Javier is a joke. She constantly has to be at the center of attention, even though he has a very demanding job as a football player and has to help, or more accurately be the only one taking care of their daughter. To make it worse she is constantly jealous despite his incredible faithfulness to her. The scene where she accuses him of blowing a kiss at someone (which he did because she was a fan), then exaggerates the story more and more with every sentence is one of the funniest parts of the film. Or how about when she makes him cheat on her just to get it overwith, but cries like crazy because he was enjoying it? You can really not blame Javier for becoming exhausted with her drama.

She's also jealous at the attention given to the baby, without once considering they'd be closer to each other if she took care of it too. The carelessness she shows towards her child Amanda is the main reason this is such a disturbing character. Whenever she cries she puts on deafening music to cancel out the noise instead of comforting it, and even when it's not crying she still feels nothing but absolute contempt.
WARNING: spoilers below
We are given details on how she had another daughter in the past that died, which an investigator suspects she was responsible for. The script does try to misdirect us a little, but the confirmation that she was behind the death is not a surprise. What does jolt you however is the way she was killed. It was more than pure neglect, she wanted this child to die. It brings another creepy layer to the disgusting behavior she displays towards Amanda, and brings about the tragic climactic point where she decides to repeat her past "mistake" once again.

The acting from Mariana Di Girólamo is superb. Her facial expressions and body language really sell you on self-obsessed Verónica is, and fully convinces you there's no limit whatsoever to how far her villainy can go. She's pitiable, yet unlikable enough that you don't start to feel bad for her. Even when cornered by her investigator she coldly issues a threat that she will turn the case around to make him look like the bad guy instead. The evil circle of vacuousness never ends.

The directing is always focused on the characters facing the camera and very little else, which might sound unimaginative, but is actually the most suitable look for this story.

An engrossing character drama with a touch of black comedy, La Verónica is one of the most surprising gems from The Gothenburg Film Festival.