Review: Expansivas

Written and directed by Ramiro García Bogliano, co-written by Milagros Garro, two sisters return to their hometown to lay rest the remains of their mother who died years earlier in mysterious circumstances. Tension grows between them as one suspects their mother was killed by their estranged father, whilst the other is unable to accept his guilt. Starring: Sara Hebe, Martina Juncadella, Assumpta Serna, Gustavo Portela, Facundo Baigorri and Gocia Goncalves.

Complicated family relationships are undeniably a staple of cinema, and the emotions between Flavia (Hebe), Ana (Juncadella) and their father Rudi (Portela) is definitely anything but simple. However, the film quickly turns to revenge over exploring their complex history or the women’s relationship with their mother before her death. It prevents the story from connecting as strongly as it could, the motivation is overly simple and lacks a more emotional edge. Even if the story does miss out on a certain depth, it does still hold a great tension and move at a pace that holds your attention extremely well.

However, what truly holds the story back from making more of an impact is the direction and cinematography. The visual is too clean, it lacks a grit or harshness that the story sincerely calls for, there’s nothing to capitalise on its darkness. Similarly the choice of angles and over-use of handheld gives it an inexperienced feel, it needed a sharpness to accent the tension and suspense but instead comes across quite everyday more suited to a straightforward drama. The colour is much the same, with a surprisingly large portion taking place during the day for a film with such dark intent, it takes away from the atmosphere. Everything is slightly too rosy and bright, preventing it from hitting as hard as it could.

On the other hand, Sara Hebe and Martina Juncadella do a great job of bringing a vulnerability and intensity to the story. The two of them create a convincing relationship, as well as very different personalities despite actually not much time being dedicated to diving into their lives. The two also create an interesting dynamic, it’s an estranged relationship but you can still sense the connection between them. Assumpta Serna adds a nice balance between the two, a middle ground that they can both happily relate to. Gustavo Portela only gets a brief look in here but he certainly brings the weight and threat the role asks for, it’s a shame the energy he provides isn’t weaved more consistently into the film throughout.

Expansivas is a solid thriller but it misses the opportunity to dive deeper or go darker. It moves at a great pace to keep you hooked and the performances by its leads Hebe and Juncadella are very strong. Sadly it’s let down by its visual work, the direction feels messy and the cinematography struggles to help build a tangible atmosphere. It’s a shame to not see it reach its full potential but there’s still an entertaining film to be found here.

Verdict: ✯✯✯

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