Review by Justin Bateman
Stars Magaly Solier, Susi Sanchez, Efrain Solis, Barbara Lazon, Delci Heredia, Karla Heredia, Fernando Caycho, Miller Revilla Chengay, Spencer Salazer, Summy Lapa
Written by Claudia Llosa
Certification UK 12A | Peru 14
Runtime 95 minutes
Directed by Claudia Llosa
A young Peruvian woman called Fausta (Solier) is tending to her elderly mother who sings a song about her own rape many years before, when she was pregnant with Fausta. Within minutes, Fausta's mother is dead and she goes outside to tell her relatives who live next door and are preparing for her cousin's wedding. She faints before she can tell them and is taken to hospital. Her illness is the milk of sorrow, explains her uncle to the doctor, an affliction cursing the children of those in the womb when their mother was raped. The doctor tells him that no such illness exists and that whatever the myth may suggest to prevent rape herself, Fausta should not have a potato in her vagina.
The Milk of Sorrow is not quite as bizarre as this set up may imply but neither is it straightforward. Keen to avoid the fate of her mother decides to take a job as a maid in the house of a wealthy musician. Shy and largely uncommunicative, Fausta begins to sing her mother's song, perhaps as a way of coping with her loss or possibly to engage with her new employer. Meanwhile, family life on the outskirts of Lima continues, with her cousin's wedding plans coming together and Fausta worrying about where the money will come from to pay for her mother's funeral.
Solier has a certain presence and although she doesn't say much cuts an interesting figure in a decidely strange life. But for all her skills in portraying the confused Fausta, there isn't really enough to engage the viewer throughout. There are pockets of incident but very little in the way of drama and although the young woman elicits smypathy, it becomes increasingly hard to get involved the story. Nicely shot and mildly diverting but little more than that.