Knowing the background to the production of Litigante would make one surmise that it was more documentary than fiction. Director Franco Lolli cast his own mother (Leticia Gomez) and cousin (Carolina Sanin) in the titular roles of mother and daughter. Both are not trained actors yet their portrayal of characters in this emotionally-tied and twisted tale is extraordinary.
Litigante follows single mother Silvia (played by Sanin), a talented lawyer struggling to care for her young son, Antonio (played by Antonio Martinez) and ill-tempered, cancer-battling mother Leticia (played by Gomez). As Leticia’s health further declines, she refuses doctors’ recommendations for chemotherapy much to Silvia’s disbelief. Between her and her sister, Maria Jose (played by Alejandra Sarria), they juggle their mother’s doctors and hospital visits and meal times. Silvia is not one to hold her opinions and her outbursts towards Leticia are laced with a reality that many families in the same situation must face – a child’s want to prolong life versus the sufferer’s want to end the pain. These exchanges are heartbreaking to watch.
On top of all this, Silvia is dealing with a developing corruption scandal at work. Her position as legal director at a government agency has come under scrutiny in the wake of the awarding of a transportation contract. She is left to defend herself from the ire of a local radio journalist, after which a confrontation with her boss leads to an inevitable resignation.
Her fate takes a turn when in an act to cheer her up, friend Sergio (played by David Roa) takes her to a house party. Over a drink she comes face to face with the hostile radio journalist Abel (played by Vladimir Duran) from the earlier interview. Calling a truce to not talk work or politics, they laugh and dance together. Their good time blossoms into a relationship; Abel is great with Antonio, yet Leticia cannot rationalise why her daughter has left herself vulnerable to Abel’s duplicity.
The main story at play here is mother and daughter, highlighting the instances where too much time is wasted on the irrelevant and too little time is devoted to saying what is most important. It is a brilliant example of a tale of modern womanhood that does not push a feminist agenda.
If this film could not be more unique, for director Lolli, Litigante is a deeply personal piece of work as his mother Leticia was in remission from her own cancer battle.
Lolli comments “On the set of Litigante, I cried approximately twenty days out of forty, I was shaken by what I was filming.”
Litigante is showing now at Palace James Street. Please check your local guides for screening times.
Running time: 93 minutes
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
Directed by: Franco Lolli
Written by: Marie Amachoukeli-Barsacq, Virginie Legeay, Franco Lolli
Stars: Carolina Sanin, Leticia Gomez, Alejandra Sarria, Antonio Martinez, David Roa, Vladimir Duran