Happy Sunday evening, dear (and highly appreciated) readers. I hope you’re enjoying it as much as myself. I spent a lot of the day being lazy and stuffing myself with everything unhealthy because that’s what Sundays are for, I guess. Anyway, I managed to read a good part of a new book I recently bought, called Ciudades Desiertas, which is the novel that You’re Killing Me, Susana is based on. I’d never have bought that book if it weren’t for Gael García Bernal on the cover – and yes, I’m 25 and I’m still a major passionate (at times pathetic) fan girl. I didn’t finish the book today but I thought today was an excellent opportunity to watch the movie and, apart from getting to see a good movie, I realized that I could watch an entire movie in MEXICAN Spanish without subtitles because, believe me, by now, I know what la chingada and una chela are, right güey?
You’re Killing Me, Susana is a comedy/drama about Eligio, a mediocre soap opera actor from Mexico City who loves women and hanging out with friends until late at night. One morning he wakes up to discover that his wife Susana has left him without a word. This troubles him so much that he ditches his side chick Marta that he met on set of a soap opera, and he starts looking for his beloved wife of seven years. Eligio eventually finds out that Susana has gone to a workshop for writers in Iowa, and he immediately travels to the States to find and win back the woman he loves. It’s not an easy task because Susana has already moved on but Eligio just won’t give up while facing and fighting his own demons.
I heard about this movie back in 2016 when it was released, and the Spanish El País called described it as ‘the romantic ambiguity’ a couple of weeks ago, describing Eligio as a depiction of a Mexican macho (macho mexicano) – a term I strongly dislike because machos are all around the world, not only in Mexico! But I was eager to see Gael García Bernal in that role (more on that in a bit). I have to agree with El País’s description – you have this pretty boy who cheats on his wife but when she leaves, he travels abroad to beg her to come back home to be with him. It’s extremely hard to tell whether he is afraid to lose face due to being a ‘macho’ or he really loves Susana. The movie is like that – just as you think Eligio is sincere and would kill for Susana, he messes up and, once again, you wonder what his intentions are. That’s the element that made me angry at both Eligio and Susana. Eligio is the charming jerk who gets away with too much while Susana is a strong woman who knows exactly what she wants in life but their differences make them perfect for each other. In the novel Ciudades Desiertas, the focus is mainly on Susana, whereas in You’re Killing Me, Susana we are following Eligio, which is a great way of showing a Mexican man crossing the border of the land of the free and the home of the brave. As expected, he is discriminated at the airport and he encounters a racist taxi driver on his first day in the country. Apart from being a highly relevant subject, these scenes include some of the best and funniest lines of the movie.
You’re Killing Me, Susana shows two artists who both face their own demons while figuring out what love (or real love) is. It shows the struggles of coming to a new country, fitting into the crowd, and finding yourself while leaving everything and everyone behind. Most importantly, it shows that love comes in different shapes and, as long as you are comfortable with it, it’s perfect as it is.
The absolute best part of the movie is Gael García Bernal’s acting – he portrays a very likable person who can change in a matter of seconds. He goes from being all smiley and funny to almost beating up his wife’s 6 feet tall lover. His moments of breakdown when encountered with difficult situations are impeccably portrayed and once again, Gael goes to show that he is the best Mexico has to offer. Verónica Echegui does a decent job as well but her acting is pretty much the same throughout the whole movie.
Although I enjoyed You’re Killing Me, Susana, it’s not a movie I’d watch again. The length is perfect and the pace is even better but there are some details that bother me. The movie is supposed to focus on two people from Mexico and, in the movie, Susana is Spanish! A major miss by the crew behind this romantic drama, as I would have loved the focus to be on Mexican feminism. If you want a funny and enjoyable movie with a different love story, I’d recommend You’re Killing Me Susana but don’t expect a major blockbuster that’ll blow your mind. It is one of the movie you’re happy that you watched but that’s about it. There is a lot of swearing, a lot of nudity and sex, and, most importantly, it WILL make you laugh. 3/5 clapperboards from me.