Girlfriends and Girlfriends (La amiga de mi amiga)
(Spain, 89 min.)
Dir. Zaida Carmona
Feat. Zaida Carmona, Rocío Saiz, Alba Cros, Thaïs Cuadreny
Art imitates life in Zaida Carmona’s refreshingly funny Girlfriends and Girlfriends. This smartly observed slice of auto-fiction draws openly from the filmmaker’s life. Carmona plays Zaida, an aspiring filmmaker working on a script that strikingly resembles the tale unfolding on screen. The recently dumped Millennial finds herself looking for love, too, as she shops her script around Barcelona’s lesbian art scene. Irked and motivated by the book on relationships (re: polyamory) that her ex gifted her as a parting shot, Zaida has sex on the brain.
Girlfriends and Girlfriends takes audiences along for a restless week in the life of this offbeat artisan. She seeks love and fulfilment in Barcelona’s cinemas, galleries, dive bars, and concert halls. The Zaidas on either side of the camera have a lot in common: they’re scrappy dreamers finding their voice in a crowded scene.
The film humorously earns its laurels as a self-described “five-way lesbian sitcom as Zaida make her way through her circle of friends. They’re all lesbians in various stages of “adulting.” Some are coupled with kids. Others are extending their “young professional” statuses for some victory laps. As Zaida surfs from couch to couch and goes from one dinner party to another, though, she observes how her friends define happiness and fulfilment on their own terms. That’s great, but it’s also a source of envy: Zaida wants what they have, which, unfortunately, means ‘shipping girlfriends of girlfriends.
Nods to Girlfriends, Gerwig, and Rohmer
The comedy unfolds with a breezy style that evokes 1970s’ independent cinema. One might see it as a double-down of Claudia Weill’s Girlfriends with a similar story of female friendship and aspiring young professionals in New York City. Carmona, however, lends a drolly incestuous town to her hybrid sex comedy. Everyone is in on the joke and playing some variation on themselves as part of Carmona’s self-reflexive exercise. The European flavour and liberal attitude to love and sexuality, moreover, accentuate the youthful atmosphere fuelled by a euphoric electro-pop soundtrack.
Carmona pays homage to French New Wave auteur Éric Rohmer as Zaida frequents a local cinematheque with Lara (Alba Cros, who also shot the film). She’s the object of Zaida’s affection and the girlfriend of her best friend Rocío (Rocío Saiz). Moreover, Lara, a filmmaker, seems highly attune to the Rohmer-ish settings of their predicament. She observes the young, somewhat directionless love interest pursuing her in the picturesque city. Carmona’s style gives a slice of Rohmer with a dash of Greta Gerwig: Zaida is the hybrid Frances Ha, more natural and stylistically muted than Noah Baumbach’s black-and-white ditty, but equally endearing in its offbeat, observant humour. Girlfriends and Girlfriends is spot-on a reflection of messy Millennial life.