Direction: Carlos Vermut
Influenced by the Spanish pop culture and a few master directors, Madrid-born Carlos Vermut assembled his third feature, Quien Te Cantara?, with poetic, dramatic, and uncanny tones. Lamentably, the fine gothic tinge applied to the imagery couldn’t hamper the story, set in Rota, Andalucia, from feeling tediously monochromatic.
Lila Cassen (Najwa Nimri), the most celebrated pop star in Spain, inexplicably vanished from the stages for ten years. When she finally decides for a comeback tour, an accident steals her memory, putting all her fortune and high-end lifestyle at stake. The good news is that her amnesia seems to be partial since she was able to recognize herself and Shakira in pictures.
Her devoted agent and longtime friend, Blanca Guerrero (Carme Elias), is disquieted with the situation, realizing that touring is imperative for the artist's future. And that’s when she devises a weird plan to have Lila learning how to be herself again with the help of a staunch admirer and flawless imitator, Violeta (Eva Llorach), a karaoke performer who is manipulated and abused by her insolent 23-year-old daughter Marta (Natalia de Molina). Marked by an inner sadness, the two women become closer, sharing laughs and tears, and their past and present slowly blur into an opaque transference of identities.
Laced with revelational yet laborious self-examinations, this is a sleep-inducing melodrama that never earns what it works so hard to accomplish. Except for the mother/daughter scenes, whose sudden emotional catharsis is reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman, the film lingers in a lethargic narrative, while probing, sometimes in the same scene, Fassbinder-like decadence and Hitchcockian mystery.
With occasional stiffness and an unattractive score getting in the way, Quien Te Cantara? is not as mesmerizing as Vermut’s previous neo-noir, Magical Girl (2014).