Vicenta B is the reason why I love film festivals. The film isn’t a modern masterpiece or anything, but it is a film that I am glad I was able to see. It took me to a world I knew nothing about, embedding itself in the culture and giving us interesting characters that are well-written. It also comes from a filmmaker who is on the rise with a bright future. This is why film festivals are important.
Vicenta B is a captivating drama about Vicenta (Linnett Hernandez Valdes), a Cuban woman who can see into the future and communicate with spirits. She has become a staple of her tiny Cuban town for solace and advice. When people are stressed or have questions about their lives, they turn to and rely on Vicenta. But when her abilities vanish following the departure of her son, Vicenta struggles with her own anxieties and her purpose.
Director Carlos Lechuga has made an interesting character study about finding your purpose. The film almost plays like a superhero movie where the superhero has lost their powers. What does Superman do if he could no longer save people? That’s what it feels like when Vicenta loses her ability to see the spirits and read the futures of her local townspeople. She has become a beacon of the community, someone people seek out for help and comfort in times of need. But when her abilities vanish, it leads to an unexpected tragedy that forces Vicenta to confront her purpose in the community that has relied on her. Lechuga also embeds us into the Cuban culture and village, taking us deep into the village and showing us the life and cultures of these Cuban people.
Valdes gives an excellent performance. She is in nearly every scene of the film and commands the screen. Valdes’s performance is one of quiet power and nuance. There are hardly any loud moments in the film, yet we always know what Vicenta thinks and feels because of her posturing and expressive eyes. It is an outstanding performance from a talented actress I would love to see on screen again.
I normally don’t complain about short movies, and Vicenta B is indeed a short film, with a runtime of 77 minutes. But I wish the movie was longer and we could live with Vicenta a bit more. Get more of her life and more of her connection with her community. Lechuga crafted a compelling character and story in an interesting place that we don’t usually see on film. Vicenta B is why film festivals are important because they take us to new places and introduce us to new and interesting characters.
Vicenta B. played at the 2022 Chicago International Film Festival.
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