We All Want What’s Best For Her

weallA year after an almost-fatal car accident, Geni (Nora Navas) seems ready to get her life back on track, much to the relief of family members who want her to return to ‘normal’. However, from the outset of the film – a doctor’s appointment during which Geni tries to intuit the correct answers with mixed results – the audience sees what her family does not: Geni has not fully recovered and is struggling with the expectations placed on her. In fact, Geni’s old life no longer holds any appeal for her and WE ALL WANT WHAT’S BEST FOR HER follows her attempts to escape the life that has been laid out for her.

Of the supposedly supportive, but actually suffocating family group, only Geni’s sister Raquel (Ágata Roca) tries to offer genuine support and listen to what she actually says, while Geni’s husband Dani (Pau Durà) is controlling and paternalistic, aided and abetted by her dismissive older sister Gloria (Clara Segura). Director Mar Coll (2010 Goya Award winner of Best New Director for her previous film, THREE DAYS WITH THE FAMILY (2009)) and DoP Neus Ollé film Geni’s home in a palette dominated by shades of blue, reflecting the protagonist’s mood but also supporting the presentation of a woman in stasis, frozen in an expected mode of behaviour.

What could be a tragedy becomes tragicomedy…

An opportunity for metamorphosis occurs via a chance encounter with a girlhood friend, Mariana (Valeria Bertuccelli), and Geni finds her youthful ambitions of travel and adventure rekindled. What could be a tragedy becomes tragicomedy, as Geni takes the reunion as an impetus to put change into action and regresses to her giddy and guffawing teenage self in the wayward Mariana’s company, much to Dani’s bafflement. But as Geni attempts to recapture her youth – imitating her friend’s appearance and trying to pull Mariana into an adventure – she will nonetheless find that she is not the same person she was at eighteen, and Mariana knows it.

Nora Navas (recipient of several acting awards in Spain for this film) ably runs an emotional gamut from deep loneliness to a rediscovered twinkly-eyed mirth, and gives a nuanced performance that subtly suggests Geni’s gradual recovery. The limp caused by the injury to her knee remains throughout the film, but Geni’s problems with speech, memory, and cognition - performed by Navas as somewhere between a stutter and the flustered frustration of blindly grasping for a word that is elusively out of reach – subside as the film progresses. Raquel’s suggestion that writing down a wish helps you to achieve it – define a thing and it exists – finds form in Geni starting to recover verbal dexterity in parallel to setting out to get what she wants. Geni’s affluent social milieu could have caused her search for a self-defined identity to seem like bourgeois self-indulgence, but Mar Coll and Nora Navas have instead crafted a sympathetic and human portrait of a woman in crisis.

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