‘3 Beauties’ (‘3 Bellezas’): Panama Review

Venezuela excellently has more international beauty pageant winners than any other nation, with thousands of the country ’ s mothers prepared to do what it takes to get their daughter to the top — and their family out of poverty. One such mother — unhinged, dangerous and compellingly played by Venezuelan Diana Penalver — is the target of Carlos Caridad-Montero ’ s satirical gaze in 3 Beauties. What initially looks like a local anesthetic benighted drollery can easily be seen as an entertain approach on the suffering and insecurity generated by the international beauty industry to serve its own ends, and it ’ s presumably this universality which has led to multiple festival bookings for the photograph, with more surely to follow .

erstwhile beauty queen Perla ( Penalver ) is the single beget of the wonderfully named Carolina de Monaco Camacho Camacho ( played as an pornographic by Fabiola Arace ) and her baby, Estefania ( Josette Vidal ), adenine well as the heavily sidelined Salvador ( Fabian Moreno ). Perla is a monomaniac, whose individual life goal is to prepare Carolina for smasher pageant stardom : “ You must learn to betray, ” she exhorts Carolina, whilst teaching her how to lose weight by vomiting ; later she suggests to Carolina that she ’ ll credibly have to sleep with a few old guys to get ahead .

The Bottom Line

Sharp-eyed and amusing, but pulls its punches.

“ Princes don ’ t exist — there are entirely princesses, ” she adds bitterly, and indeed the daughter ’ mho church father is entirely absent from the film, not referenced even once. This is another LatAm movie which men are either animals or absent, part of an ongoing attack to undermine the celibate ’ south abiding machismo.

When the action moves forward some 10 years following an accident which about kills Carolina, the family is in the powerful grip of another kind of religion. The handwriting cleverly points up that both the Catholic church ( as presented hera ) and the beauty pageant commercial enterprise can be similarly manipulative, bourgeois and dangerous. “ We beseech you, Lord, ” Perla pleads in the film ’ s best line, “ to speed up our metabolisms. ” As Carolina — and Estefania, excessively, driven by envy — prepare for the Miss Republic contest, it ’ s through the early scenes of this drawn-out moment section that 3 Beauties actually shows its teeth, with the girls lined up and defined as either ‘ tenderloin ’ or ‘ spam. ’

The big gala finale is impressively changeable but lightweight given what has come before, failing in full to capitalize on all the sense of menace that has been built up and descending excessively easily into an farfetched combination of farce and tragedy. But the final scene — with its sideways wink at Some Like It Hot — is identical nicely done, indeed .
There ’ s a political reading of 3 Beauties which says that it ’ mho about Venezuelan dictators ( Perla ) and unquestioningly manipulated masses ( her daughters ). That may be over the top, but neither is it quite adequate to say that Caridad-Montero is entirely focusing on the state ’ s beauty contests. The film is taking a general look at our image-based culture .
To the eyes of a more politically correct polish, Perla, as wonderfully played by Penalver, is a slightly fleshy, bustling dressmaker, the very definition of in-between course. But her wish to do the “ right thing ” for her girls makes her a monster, concealing a very dangerous woman who unfailingly does the amiss thing, causing them all kinds of wrong ( formative operating room is just the begin ) and effectively breaking up the kin in the name of her deform ambition .
One effective here and now has Estefania trailing blood around the stagecoach from underneath her pageant dress ; the girls ’ attempts at getting a boyfriend, El Chino ( Diego Guerrero ), are besides screwed up by the smasher pageant occupation. This is dark stuff, but the film doesn ’ metric ton seem to want to confront the entire consequences, preferring to linger on the surface consequences rather than explore trouble minds — so that while Penalver ’ sulfur is a all right operation, it is not a deep one. But then again, there ’ s the troubling suggestion that in the case of Perla, there may in fact be no depths to explore .
output caller : Nomenclatura Films
Cast : Diana Penalver, Josette Vidal, Fabiola Arce, Fabian Moreno
Director-screenwriter-editor : Carlos Caridad-Montero
Producers : Eliana Navarro Buschbeck, Carlos Caridad Montero
Director of photography : Alexandra Henao
Production architect : Matias Tikas
Costume couturier : Jerico Montilla
Composer : Alvaro Paiva Bimbo
Casting directors : Beto Benites, Luis Castillo
Sales : Media Luna New Films

not rated, 97 minutes



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