Out gay writer-director Marcelo Martinessi’s absorbing drama, “The Heiresses” — Paraguay’s Oscar submission — depicts a period of crisis and change experienced by Chela (Ana Brun) and Chiquita (Margarita Irun), two 60-something lesbians. At that start of the film, the house the couple share is being deaccessioned; they are selling off their possessions to raise money.
The reason for this sale is eventually revealed: Chiquita is going to prison for fraud. This situation depresses Chela, who is concerned friends and neighbors will discover this shameful truth. Chela’s drab and sad life changes, however, when her neighbor, Pituca (María Martis), asks her to drive her to a card game. During one of these trips, Chela meets Angy (Ana Ivanova), a sultry younger beauty, and becomes smitten with her. When Chela gives Angy rides — and the women bond over cigarettes and sunglasses — she becomes reawakened to life.
Actress Ana Brun gives a remarkable performance as a woman who comes to find a sense of liberation and self-worth. The actress is incredibly expressive, whether she’s observing her surroundings during her prison visits to Chiquita, staring almost vacantly through her car windshield, or secretly ogling Angy at various moments. Martinessi also draws viewers into the drama by using both muted and vivid colors, and shooting the characters in an intimate style that practically eavesdrops on their lives. This is a slow film that rewards patient viewers.
“The Heiresses” is screening once – Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. at the PFS Roxy Theater. Don’t miss it!