Sunday, 24 October 2010


Referring to both folk culture and recent Peruvian history, The Milk of Sorrow follows Fausta, one of many women experiencing a psychosomatic affliction which transfers the trauma of systematic rape from generation to generation through women’s breastmilk. Conscious of the suffering endured by her recently deceased mother, Fausta becomes determined to avoid the same fate by inserting a potato in her vagina. As she attempts to sustain her family’s interest in burying their mother according to her wishes, she juggles diverse emotions and slowly deteriorates under the mounting stress.

From the very first frame, director Claudia Llosa makes the audience aware of the film’s themes as Fausta and her dying mother sing an emotive Quechua folksong together. As the rest of her family show more interest in partying, we are kept very aware of Fausta’s spiritual connection with her mother, and thus ideals of femininity. Without featuring any visual depictions of rape, Llosa does a stunning job of eliciting a strong emotional response from her audience, and remarkably even manages to balance the drama with a few laughs at the simple joys of life. But there is a worry that Llosa is oversimplifying the issues. Extreme contrasts in the film are made between masculine and feminine, rich and poor, and in the moments where the film should become most affecting, it often resembles a Greek tragedy. The biggest credit for the film undoubtedly belongs to lead actress Magaly Solier, whose enigmatic performance as Fausta keeps the film fascinating and believable.

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