You're Killing Me Susana
Starring Gael García Bernal, Verónica Echegui
What begins as a basic relationship story, turns into a surprising dark comedy romance hybrid. Gael García Bernal (Y tu Mama Tambien, Neruda), has long been one of the most recognizable Mexican actors in America. His films tend to go international more than any other star from Mexico because American audiences have become so familier with him. You’re Killing Me Susana is one of Bernal’s least political films in a while, also one of his best performances. There are moments in the story that feel honest and real, as if they were lifted from someone’s personal story. Most of the movie is set in America, Iowa, to be exact, and further pushes this romantic dramedy into new territory. What’s most unpredictable about the narrative is how it ends up very similar to the broader themes of La La Land.
When Eligio (Bernal) returns home late to greet his wife Susana (Echegui), she is already in bed. A second rate soap opera actor by day, Eligio’s flirting, late night drinking and misunderstanding of his relationship catches up with him. When he wakes up in the morning, Susana is gone, along with her things. No matter how Eligio tries to move on, he can’t accept her abrupt departure, and needs either closure or a second chance. He tracks her down to a prestigious writing school in Iowa, pawns his car and heads to America to win her back. Susana is stunned that her disconnected husband would even bother, both begin to face painful realities about their relationship one maddening circumstance at a time.
A surprising dark comedy romance hybrid.
The moment Eligio lands in America, the script greatly improves, beginning with a very unpleasant experience with the TSA. “You don’t look Mexican,” the cab driver from the airport to the college says. “You look different, better.” You’re Killing Me Susana can’t resist throwing in some American movie clichés, having Eligio running from police, hiding in leaves, falling off window seals and a variety of other comedic stereotypes. However, the script is at its best when our main characters seriously try to work through their problems. He is a contemptable person most of the time, controlling and prone to jealously. She is a brat, uncertain of what she wants, and afraid to say the three most important words in a relationship.
This is ultimately a love story about how hearts and minds want conflicting things in a complicated, and ever evolving relationship. It’s not simply boy loses girls, chases after her and wins her back. I couldn’t help but associate You’re Killing Me Susana with the narrative of La La Land. Both films are about the relationship or person that pushes you to the next level of adulthood. Bernal is afforded the chance to play a variety of emotions with this character, since the story is mostly told from his point of view. Both American and Mexican viewers (half the dialogue if English) will find this ironic and dark – fish out of water story – amusing and entertaining.
A surprisingly funny and in-touch modern day romance.