Review of Sirwiñakuy

Here’s a great review of Sirwiñakuy, originally published in (Re)search My Trash Here

Sirwiñakuy

Bolivia 2010
produced by
Jac Avila, Amy Hesketh, Roberto Lopez L. for Pachamama Films
directed by Amy Hesketh
starring Veronica Paintoux, Jac Avila, Erik Antoine, Roberto Lopez L., Alfredo Lopez C.
written by Amy Hesketh, music by Manuel Monrroy, Scott Slapin

review by
Mike Haberfelner

The expression Sirwiñakuy basically describes a tradition practiced by some indigenous Andean tribes of men kidnapping their potential wives and live with them for any amount of time (some times years) to figure out if they are at all compatible. If yes, marriage is to follow, if no, the woman is let go …

The expression Sirwiñakuy basically describes a tradition practiced by some indigenous Andean tribes of men kidnapping their potential wives and live with them for any amount of time (some times years) to figure out if they are at all compatible. If yes, marriage is to follow, if no, the woman is let go …

It all starts in a café: Luis (Jac Avila) finds a girl in the crowd, Anouk (Veronica Paintoux), whom he feels immediately attracted to – hardly surprising, she is rather attractive. She feels his gazes, and even though he is a great deal older than her, and not the best looking guy in the room, she feels weirdly drawn to him, too. So when he rather out of the blue asks her to come with him, she agrees. They go to her place, where she packs a few things, then move on to his place. Luis’s place turns out to be a decaying apartment filled with bookcases and furniture from a time before Anouk or even Luis were born. Anouk feels terribly out of place, but something tells her not to leave. Even when Luis treats her with the utmost arrogance and talks down to her, she sticks with him. That night, they share a bed, but don’t have sex.

The next day, Anouk meets Geoff (Erik Antoine), her ex from high school who still cares for her, in a café. Their conversation makes her forget the time – and when she comes home for dinner, Luis pulls down her pants and panties and spanks her. She sticks with him. The next day, he buys her cloths, clothes that are absolutely not her style, and that her grandmother would have worn. She sticks with him still. Then Luis wants to cut her hair, but she says no and stands her ground – even if that results in him raping her. Still, she sticks with him.

In the next few days, Luis humiliates Anouk in quite a few ways. Sometimes he almost overdoes it, and on occasion she prepares to leave – but always lacks the determination to go through with it.

Only a week after their last meeting, she meets with Geoff again – and he is shocked to see her totally changed, the fun-loving girl he knew has suddenly turned in a submissive with no will of her own, but everytime he questions her about her domestic situation, she evades his questions. But he may have planted the seed of rebellion in her …

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Superficial feminists and followers of the church of political correctness will probably dislike this film for its supposed patriarchal undercurrents and for showing the woman in a victim role – and of course couldn’t be further from the truth, as Sirwiñakuy isn’t at all about gender policies but a very empathetic portrayal of a master/slave relationship that also shows the weaknesses of the master-role as well as the sources of empowerment of the slave character. And it’s all captured in extremely moody and powerful images by first-time director Amy Hesketh, who manages to make this a film of high erotic tension, even if (or rather because) the sexy bits never become self serving. And Veronica Paintoux brings just the right mix of  vulnerability and sexual power to her role to make it hers from frame one.

Absolutely recommended!

Oh, and if my review at all got you interested, you may want to get the movie from here: http://movies.vermeerworks.com or http://vermeerworks.com/store/dvds/

review © by Mike Haberfelner