BFI London Film Festival 2016: Rara Offers a Different Point Of View On Coming Of Age Stories

Credit: Latido Films
Credit: Latido Films

The protagonist of Rara is the (soon to be) thirteen-year-old Sara, who is just a normal kid at that age. She fancies a boy from her school, spends time with her best friend, and occasionally fights with her parents.

Though Rara is not about her social life, but about her family and the way she struggles with that constellation.

Her parents are separated. Her mom is now in a relationship with another woman, while her dad Victor remarried. Sara and her younger sister Catalina “Cata” live with their mom Paula and partner Lía.

Until her younger sister drew a picture of their family and her parents get called by the school about it, Sara never questioned her family’s constellation at all. Despite the weird looks they got and the talks about her family in the town.

From then on, Sara started to feel ashamed due to society’s opinion on her mother’s sexuality and the fact that society views her family as “not normal.” After a fight with her mother one night, she storms off to her father. It’s only a matter of time now that Victor will follow up with a custody battle.

Check out the trailer to get a first impression of the movie.

When I’ve first read the description of Rara, I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’m usually not a fan of “coming of age” stories. Rara was a lot more than that. It was never mentioned that Sara started to struggle due to what society was thinking about her family, but it never had to be said out loud. It was the subtle pressure of society that forced her to struggle. The audience just knew what her struggle was really about, which also says a lot about the storyline and the acting.

Sara is played by the young actress Julia Lübbert. Despite her age, Lübbert manages to portray the struggle within Sara while staying tough and appearing as if she doesn’t care at all on the outside, without even using a lot of words to do so.

Although, she is not the only one who portrays her character perfectly well.

Daniel Muñoz, who plays Sara’s father Victor, brings that slight awkwardness of Victor to life in regards to how he acts around his two daughters, even though he just means well. The audience is aware of this throughout the movie. Although, you can’t really help it but hate him a bit for starting the custody battle and trying to get his daughters back.

is Emilia Ossanda’s first big role and she does an incredible job with it. Her character Catalina “Cata” seems to be a brat. She got on my nerves a few times during the movie. You also know that it is her way of showing her neediness, which is best expressed when she wants to keep the kitten at all cost. Ossanda plays that neediness in such a good way while also showing that she has a very vulnerable and innocent side to her.

Mariana Loyola (Paula) and Augustina Muñoz (Lía) complete the family. You can really feel with Paula due to the way Loyola portrays her. Whenever she’s sad, you get sad as well. When she’s angry you understand her reasoning behind it, which Loyola portrays in a very good and convincing way. There’s one scene where she snaps at her daughter. While you get angry with Paula for doing so (after all Sara is just a child), you can also understand why she does it, as it is a frustrating situation.

Augustina Muñoz’s character Lía on the other hand, has a way of calming down the family whenever tension rises. Even in the tough times the family goes through, Muñoz manages to play Lía as the understanding one. She’s on the side of her step-daughters’ and her partner’s without that you get the feeling of it being forced.

Rara is based on the true story of a Chilean judge who lost custody of her daughters due to her sexuality, which makes the movie definitely worth a watch.

During the film festival, the general public is able to watch Rara on Thursday October 6th and Saturday October 8th. For more information visit the offical BFI website.

Anna Hattingen