SXSW Film Review: Women Is Losers

Dutiful feminist dramedy has some tricks up its sleeve

credit: Look at the Moon Pictures

In its opening minutes, SXSW Narrative Feature Competition entrant Women Is Losers issues a mea culpa.

The actors stop the scene en media res, look straight into the camera, and explain what you’re about to watch: a tale of good old fashioned, up-by-the-bootstrap, American resourcefulness, only this one foregrounds faces – Latinx – not often at the heart of this kind of tale. The actors also beg your lenience with the period detail (the film is set in late 60s/early 70s San Francisco); with indie films, they explain, you can’t always dress the street or afford the best lighting.

Women Is Losers is selling itself short. True, eagle eyes will spot an anachronistic Applebee’s in the background of one shot. But the brightly colored production and costume design belie the low budget, and cinematographer Farhad Ahmed Dehlvi shoots the action with a crispness that works in concert with writer-director Lissette Feliciano’s intended staginess.

A dramedy “inspired by real women,” Women Is Losers charts the course of Selina Guerrera, a 17 year old forced to grow up fast when her Catholic school upbringing leaves her woefully lacking a sex education. Selina must figure out how to land employment and housing at a time when San Francisco is changing, but not fast enough for a single mother or woman of color.

Chilean actress Lorenza Izzo is plainly too old to be playing the teenage Selina, but she’s so luminous you’ll let it slide. And again, Feliciano has written that handy escape clause for every implausibility – artificiality is baked into the premise, as the frequent direct camera addresses to point out everyday sexism or render a lightning-round lesson on the Chinese Exclusionary Act regularly remind us. The straightforward narrative of Selina’s path to self-sufficiency is ultimately too dutiful for sustained dramatic interest, but these raised-eyebrow asides show real sparkiness.

Women Is Losers can be screened on demand through Saturday, March 20.

Women Is Losers

Narrative Feature Competition

World Premiere

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