One of the films that really stood out for me at the Festival de Cine en Guadalajara (FICG) was Roberto Sneider's dark comedy Me Estas Matando Susana. The film is based on the beloved novel Ciudades Desiertas by Jose Agustin and stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Veronica Echegui.
In Me Estas Matando Susana, Bernal is Eligio, a charismatic actor living life by the balls in Mexico City. The only problem is his wife Susana (Echegui) is less than impressed with her husband's winsome ways. On a whim, Susana decides to flee Mexico and start a new chapter in her life at a Midwestern college. Eligio discovers that Susana has fled Mexico and makes the trip to the states to find her.
There is nothing stale about this film. It is a perfect concoction of profound characters, pithy dialog, music and excellent pace. I talked to director Roberto Sneider and music composer Victor Stumpfhauser at FICG.
Sneider has an interesting background in advertising but has worked on some great films (Frida). Like many accomplished directors, he started from the ground up and even attended the American Film Instutiute.
Me Estas Matando Susana is rich with quick-witted dialog, mostly a credit to Agustin's transcendent novel. But there is also the masterful performance by Bernal and the other actors. Sneider discusses the challenges and rewards of adapting the novel to film. He also gives a lot of credit to his writing partner Luis Camara.
Me Estas Matando Susana is filmed in Mexico and the US but has a truly international cast. It adds to the humor when intentions get lost in translation. Although there are subtitles for the Spanish, it helps to know the language, because a lot of the core humorous interactions are culturally specific. But this in no way takes away from the overall excellence of the story.
Another character in the film is the music. Victor Hernandez Stumpfhauser did an amazing job putting together a composition that evokes the necessary emotions without seeming commercial and intrusive. Stumpfhauser talked to me about his background as a pianist and putting together the perfect score.
Me Estas Matando Susana is such a refreshing film. I especially appreciate the care the writers took to flesh out Susana as a complex woman instead of a wooden foil to Eligio's magnetic character. The film opens in theaters in Mexico May 5 but hopefully will get a US release.