BY AMANDA CLARKE
Everything worth having is fleeting and the inability to realize this leaves you miserable and alone. This is the reality of Alejandra (Andrea Portal) in Everybody’s Got Somebody…But Me. Stuck in a job in publishing that surrounds her with romantic notions of love and life, she had developed unrealistic expectations of the world. Fleeting moments of ecstasy are quickly forgotten as the realities of everyday living kick in.
We begin at the start of Alejandra’s relationship with high school student Maria (Naian Daeva). Half her age, Maria is a younger version of Alejandra. Enthusiastic about knowledge and big ideas that she struggles to understand. They spend the night together in their own perfect microcosm that is extinguished in the morning as Maria lights a cigarette, shattering Alejandra’s romantic notions of this young ingenue. In the initial stages of their romance, however, these small indiscretions can be forgiven as the initial magical essence is still tangible. Then life begins to creep in. Basic human needs like hunger take precedence over romance. Alejandra’s practicality clashes with Maria’s spontaneity making both feel distant and alone.
There is a wistfulness evoked by the title and relayed throughout the film. From the outside looking in, everybody does have somebody, but not me. Everyone else is better off, living beyond merely existing. Even when coupled there is still only a you because the you is the only thing that is constant. Everyone else is always better off because only you can’t read their minds. This is Alejandra’s reality which Maria is too young to subscribe to. The black and white cinematography conveys Alejandra’s prison within her longing and loneliness and puts her at odds with Maria’s freedom. Alejandra’s world is one of a confined and cynical beauty. There is no room for colour and vibrance, only contemplation and reflection of what has gone wrong. Characters are pushed to the edge of the frame as the weight of the philosophical ideas they discuss makes them small and unimportant. In the end it is the ideas that win out, observations from the outside looking in.
This is what filmmaker Raúl Fuentes captures so well. The exhausting, never ending search for happiness and the crushing expectations that come with it. As Alejandra is, we are defined by our relationships with others but they are comprised of fleeting moments of joy and hardships. They take work that great literature and art fail to mention. Everybody’s Got Somebody…But Me speaks to the difficulty in reconciling two different personalities and the disappointment that comes with the discovery that it is a never ending process.
Toronto’s Inside Out Film Festival runs from May 22 – June 1. Read more Inside Out coverage.