Review: Camila Comes Out Tonight

Written and directed by Inés María Barrionuevo, co-written by Andrés Aloi, when her grandmother becomes seriously ill, Camila is forced to move to Buenos Aires, leaving behind a liberal public high school for a scholastic, traditional private institution. Starring: Nina Dziembrowski, Adriana Ferrer, Guillermo Pfening, Carolina Rojas, Federico Sack and Maite Valero.

Making a film about teens that a wider audience can enjoy is not an easy task but Camila Comes Out Tonight is up to that challenge. It impressively manages to capture the youth of its story without overwhelming the tone, holding a compelling and sincere atmosphere. The palette falls more on pastel and muted colours, keeping a grounded feel to the visual. It moves in a thoughtful manner, Inés María Barrionuevo adds a sense of mystery almost to the background, there’s more to this story than just what we see. She has a skilful style to her direction, it’s enthralling from start to finish.

The story is much the same, having a young woman move to a new school is far from new material but Barrionuevo and Aloi make it feel fresh. It hits a few familiar notes but also does things differently, particularly in how it deals with sexuality. It doesn’t spend time tripping over itself to bring out Camila’s sexual orientation, it simply blends naturally into the story, which is a lovely thing to see. They’ve constructed her character extremely well, she’s very enjoyable to watch, smart and savvy but also vulnerable and curious. It’s paced out well, and touches upon a variety of different issues in a way that they’re all thrown in together, but nothing takes the lead too much or fades into the background, everything is handled gracefully and in a balanced way. Although one that stands out is the reminder of how schools and authorities treat complaints of sexual harassment, yet another tale of trying to hush those involved rather than take action. Thankfully in this case these young women refuse to let that slide.

Nina Dziembrowski brings a big but grounded personality to Camila, she’s outgoing but not arrogant. She has the certain reckless quality of youth but she’s confident and socially aware, refusing to bend to the patriarchal and old-fashioned ways of her new school. She’s surrounded by a group of great characters, she has a superb chemistry with her love interest as well as the new friends she makes. Adriana Ferrer is also great as her mother, she doesn’t get overly involved, the focus is very much on Camila, but the few moments they do have are genuinely touching. She brings an overflowing sincere emotion, as well as exploring how parents can try to hide their struggle from their children.

Camila Comes Out Tonight is a superb example of how to tell a teen story, it delves into the issues of youth without isolating a wider audience. It’s shot with an impressively compelling style which beautifully holds your attention from start to finish. It’s emotional, political, romantic and charming, with a cast of strong performers to play out a story that fits a great deal into just 103-minutes.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

Reviewed as part of BFI Flare 2022

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