Reel Reviews | Reinas (Sundance ’24)

by Charles Kirkland, Jr.

A middle-class family attempts to avoid the ill effects of the Peru financial crisis during the summer of 1992 in Reinas.

When political and social pressures arise in Peru, causing inflation to double the price of almost everything from a bottle of milk and loaf of bread to gasoline, Elena plans to take her daughters to the United States where she has a job opportunity.  Unfortunately, the children cannot leave the country without signed permission from their estranged father, Carlos, on a travel permit form.  Meanwhile, Carlos is desperate to keep the family together despite his previous failings.

Reinas is written by Klaudia Reynicke and Diego Vega.  It stars Abril Gjurinovic, Luana Vega, Jimena Lindo, Gonalo Molina and Susi Sanchez.  Reynicke also directed the film.  This is Peruvian filmmaker Reynicke’s third film but her first to screen at the Sundance Film Festival.  Her last film Love Me Tender screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019.

With a story about the political crisis that occurred in 1992, Reinas feels like a personal film for Reynicke.  She crafts a beautiful and tragic story of family, about what it takes to survive.  Elena wants a safe life for her daughters, Lucia and Aurora.  Naturally, teenaged Lucia can’t stand the idea of leaving her friends.  Young Aurora loves and trusts her dad, Carlos, and desperately wants the family to stay together.  Carlos is a hustler, currently working as a taxi driver, bartering everything he can to get what he needs.  All with a background of political unrest and curfews meant to secure the nation but only further the anxiety.

Reinas is wonderfully acted and lovingly shot.  The family dynamics are realistic and tender yet are strained and complex at the same time.  Even though the conclusion is logical and predictable, the execution of the story is what matters.  Love Me Tender was a sweet romantic tale.  Reinas is a sweet family drama.  It is tender and special but also a serious look into the dynamics of a family that ultimately cares for each other and will do whatever it can to protect each other.

Reinas has not yet been rated by the MPAA nor has it been bought by a distribution company. It is a simple story, told simply well, with beautiful people.  There is nothing not to love about the film. This film may turn out to be one of those wonderful foreign language features that find a small following by those in the know.    

 Grade:  B-