PROD Álvaro Alonso Gómez
SCR Paco R. Baños, Rafael Cobos
CAM Álvaro Gutiérrez
ED José M. G. Moyano
PROD DES Gigia Pellegrini
MUS Julio de la Rosa
PROD CO Letra M Producciones
In this tart, witty but surprisingly sensitive coming-of-age story, 18-year-old Ali likes to act tough. And maybe she is. After all, she’s been looking after her psychologically vulnerable mom for years, seeing off a succession of dodgy boyfriends/temporary stepdads and bringing in some much needed cash from her job stacking shelves at the local supermarket (an income she supplements by selling stolen produce out of the back of the store). But when her handsome, middle-class boyfriend gets too serious, and at just the time her mom installs a new guy in the house (her debonair, considerate dance-class partner Antonio), Ali just can’t take it anymore—she’s determined to short circuit this happiness before it blows up in her face.
A bright, vibrant directorial debut from Paco Baños, Ali combines the elements you might expect—anti-social hijinks, adolescent experimentation, a steep emotional learning curve—with others that are less common. Witness, for example, the film’s respectful treatment of Antonio, and the sympathetic, subtle, evenhanded way that Baños explores the mother-daughter relationship. Verónica Forqué—Almodovar’s Kika—is terrific as the mom, while Nadia de Santiago is an exciting discovery in the title role. Think Juno without the pop cultural exhibitionism—and add a dash of Jennifer Lawrence’s working-class grit.