Montclair State University’s Spanish and Latino Studies and Film Forum series recently presented the Argentinian film, “El Cuento De Las Comadrejas” or “The Weasels’ Tale.” The presentation was followed by a student-moderated Q&A session.
Although the film is not set to release in the United States until Dec. 11, 2020, students at Montclair State were able to get a first look on Saturday, Nov. 21.
Directed by Academy Award winner Juan José Campanella, the film falls under a multitude of genres and cannot be put into just one category. A combination of drama, mystery and comedy best describes his latest work.
The film narrows in on Mara, a famous retired actress, reminiscing on her old films from the late 1950s. While the world seems to revolve around her, she also lives with her husband, Pedro, famous screenwriter, Martin and famous director, Norberto. As we are introduced to these characters and their daily motions, two new characters, Barbara and Francisco, appear at the mansion, claiming to be lost.
The men in the house become suspicious of the pair, while Mara is distracted by the attention they give her. It becomes apparent that Barbara and Francisco have evil intentions, leaving the audience at the edge of their seats, wondering if the two can outsmart the rest of the group.
Melanie Ramirez, a sophomore English major, shared her thoughts on the film.
“I absolutely loved this movie,” Ramirez said. “As a Latina, myself, it is so interesting to receive this kind of exposure to Latin films that I don’t really know about. It was so inclusive in terms of love, comedy and drama.”
The Spanish and Latino Studies department has been hosting these virtual film forums over Zoom in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Each film is then followed by a Q&A session that allows students to share their opinions and engage in a discussion.
Nathalia Rivera, a junior psychology major, is one of many who attend these events.
“I truly enjoy the virtual film forums,” Rivera said. “It’s really interesting to see how different everyone’s perspective of the film can be.”
Jeffrey Lopez, a junior political science and Spanish double major, is grateful that professor Raul Galoppe, the department chair of Spanish and Latino Studies, has been able to put these events together.
“The [Latin American and Latino studies] virtual film forums have allowed for students to be able to share and discuss Latin films,” Lopez said. “It really brings us all together, despite being on a screen. Galoppe’s picks are amazing and full of nuance. I am always more than happy to spend my Saturday watching great films with my classmates.”
Melanie Garcia, a junior psychology major, acted as the student moderator during the Q&A session. A double minor in Latin American and Latino studies and in gender, sexuality and women’s studies, Garcia was asked by Galoppe to moderate the event after taking one of his classes.
“Moderating the Q&A was a great opportunity for me to continue interacting with similar material outside of class,” Garcia said. “Additionally, the discussion itself allowed me to open up new dialogues and gain perspectives from other people, which are some things I’m always looking to do. It helps that the film was very entertaining, so I looked forward to sharing my thoughts as well.”
One of the most interesting aspects of “The Weasels’ Tale” is the dialogue. The characters talk with wit and elegance, like something out of an old film.
Garcia felt that the dialogue was a way for the characters to “relive their youth and old stardom.” It is done in a natural way and further differentiates them from the younger characters, Barbara and Francisco, who are interrupting their time-frozen world.
The cinematography is particularly striking during one scene where Mara is standing in front of the projection of one of her old films. The image of her younger self appears over her face, highlighting the woman she cannot seem to let go of. It is quite an emotional scene, captured in a beautiful manner.
From funny one-liners to a mysterious and dramatic storyline, “El Cuento De Las Comadrejas” or “The Weasels’ Tale” has something for everyone to enjoy.