MPI // 2012 // 95 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // July 26th, 2013
"It's the usual problem of limits."
The earthly versus the ecclesiastical gets quite a going over in Young And Wild, (Joven y alocada) an extremely ambitious and provocative feature length debut from Chilean film maker Marialy Rivas, which created quite a buzz at last year's Sundance film festival, where it snagged the World Cinema Screenwriting Award.
"I pray to Jesus: Please make my mother never type youngandwild.blogspot.com."-Daniela Ramirez (Alicia Luc Rodriguez).
This seventeen-year-old web logger is every mother's nightmare; a well-developed young woman almost entirely obsessed with two things: her raging libido, and the internet blog upon which she catalogs her observations, fantasies, and the practical applications she employs, in attempts to slake the unquenchable thirst of her self-described "fiery twat."
By way of illustration, Dani's page flies under two flagship icons: a cartoon vagina, apparently breathing fire, and a cartoon penis, pulsating, apparently on the verge of becoming erect -- In case her readers have any doubts about the blog's intent, perhaps.
No problem there -- in fact, Dani's readers are also frequent contributors, whose own musings range from lascivious to lewd. For example, there's a smiley, baby-faced young lady writing under the name of Ze_petizza, who shares, "Hey, I was hard-core Catholic, virgin till marriage and stuff, until I met a big ol' dick, and that was that." Masterful wordplay, no? Subtle. Erudite.
Dani's mother Teresa (Aline Küppenheim) has limitation problems of her own. A fervent Evangelistic Christian by even the most conservative standards (her daughter calls her an "Evangeloon"), she scours the sacred texts of "Left Behind" series author Tim LaHaye for inspiration and instruction on the fast-approaching rapture.
When it comes to the matter of taming and tempering Dani's stubborn "willfulness," Teresa defers to the administrators of the church-affiliated high school that her daughter attends, so much so that she doesn't bat an eyelash, (never mind raise questions) when, one month prior to graduation, Dani is immediately and permanently expelled, based on gossip that she deflowered a male classmate ("a young boy -- not only in age, but in faith") in the school lavatory.
Perhaps as a last ditch effort to ensure her daughter's salvation, Teresa gets Dani an internship at a local Televangelist television station. Dropping her off at the door for her first day, she pleads with the girl not to "do anything that could embarrass me."
Jinx! Why didn't she just wave a red flag in front of the perpetually horny teenager? As soon as she shakes her first day jitters, Dani (a character driven almost exclusively by Id) plots the sexual conquest of two co-workers, Tomas (Felipe Pinto) and Antonia (María Gracia Omegna).
"What happens if I have too much love? What happens if I like two people? If I love two? If I like doing dirty things with both? Is it better than having no love at all?"
So, for better or worse, Young And Wild devolves into steeplechase, with sexuality and spirituality running neck and neck towards the finish line. I apologize in advance for my schizophrenic feelings about this most unusual film, which, despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary (more on this later) is decidedly not pornographic.
That said, despite its heralding the arrival of an obviously gifted director, sumptuous cinematography by Sergio Armstrong (No), and terrific performances by Rodriguez and Küppenheim in particular, the film ultimately goes from fascinating to exhausting by virtue of its multi-media overload, and the trajectory of its second half, which, boiled down to its rawest essence, befits a plot that is decidedly pornographic.
About the multi-media overload: Ay, caramba! Musical accompaniment that spans a variety of formats; stock footage; bright neon colors; whispers underneath dialog; titles, graphics, animation, flashbacks, and dream sequences interrupting other scenes -- this one is all over the place! Imagine a thrilling roller-coaster ride that turns into a jaunt on the spinning teacups until suddenly the floor drops out, plunging you into major gravity drop while your mouth is being stuffed with cotton candy and elephant ears from invisible hands, and all to the accompaniment of a loud, thumpy mash-up of several songs.
All of which is gloriously and meticulously rendered in pristine 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, with a bold and well-defined 5.1 (Spanish) soundtrack, riding shotgun. The MPI release provides subtitles in English, English SDH, and Spanish, but besides the film's trailer, no additional extras are available.
Now, a word about the graphic sexual content. Though Young And Wild is officially unrated by the MPAA, it's quite a bit more explicit than American audiences are used to, even in NC-17 releases. Near as I can tell, the principal actors engage only in (simulated) sex acts, with some prosthetic assistance (ala Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights). However, there are some quick inserts (pun unintentional but unavoidable) of what very well may be "the real thing." As I say, these images are little more than flickered onto the screen, and even then, manipulated by speed and color considerations, but you can't miss them.
Does this constitute pornography? I would say not -- that these visual "embellishments," potentially shocking as they are, serve a legitimate purpose here. On the other hand, I'd be hamstrung trying to argue that the film's goals couldn't be achieved without the inclusion of this imagery. Again, it's the usual problem of limits.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated