Women is Losers [SXSW21]

Sometimes a film just is made for you. Sometimes you just watch somethings and everything just works. The flaws don’t seem to matter, you just can’t see them even if you know they have to be there. It just works in every way for some reason. That was Women Is Losers for me, everything just clicked and worked. From the moment the film breaks the fourth wall for the first time, I just knew, this film was made for me. It’s over the top and doesn’t always work, but I didn’t care about it, because I was just so invested in the story, the characters, the way the film decided to tell its story. It wasn’t the perfect execution, but to me, it was exactly what I needed it to be.

Women Is Losers tries to do a lot, there’s a lot to unpack in there, but the most important thing is that it’s about trying to get out of your circumstances. It’s about growing up and making it in the world and the difficulty that awaits you along the way. It might be set in the 1970s but it is still very relevant today, which is truly the saddest part of this film. There is a moment in the film where one character makes a comment about how maybe one-day things will change for women and without missing a beat, they both stare at the camera knowingly. It’s on the nose, but somehow it works. It already has been established that breaking the fourth wall is something they do, but this is probably the instance where the film uses it the best. It’s not about telling you the date, or the circumstances of the characters, it’s not about exposition about the laws, it’s simply telling you the truth. Yes, things are better today for women but are they really? Sure, maybe we have more rights in place but are they really helping us? What about women of colour? It’s one little moment that to me showed this film true colour. It’s the voice of a filmmaker, writer/director Lissette Feliciano, making its way and exposing what she believes to be injustice in this world. One single moment, and yet, one extremely powerful one.

Lorenzo Izzo (Once Upon A Time in Holywood) as Celina is a force to reckon with, her performance needs to not only carry the film but also bring the audience in. Without her, the film crumbles. She is at the center of it all, the center of gravity. Her performance anchors the world, without her, the film is nothing. The cast that surrounds her plays to her strength. Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience) and Liza Weil (Gilmore Girls, How To Get Away With Murder) get a lot to do and shine bright. But to me, the performance that stood out the most, that had me in tears was Chrissie Fit (Pitch Perfect) as Marty. Marty is the catalyst for a lot of the film, she drives the story more than any other character outside of Izzo’s Celina. Her presence is felt throughout the film even after she isn’t in it. In a way, without Marty, Celine doesn’t go through her life like we get to see it, and Fit delivers a performance that is one to remember.

In her directorial debut, Lisette Feliciano showcases her unique voice and perspective better than some directors who have dozens of films under their belt. From the very first minutes, we know who she is, we understand the world that is being built. It feels lived in, these characters are all unique but most importantly, Feliciano puts her own spin and flair into this film. One sequence, in particular, had me on the edge of my seat. I will try to not give too much away, but after a bad decision puts Marty’s life in jeopardy, Celina finds herself walking away from a cop. In one sequence, we see Celina’s pregnancy and everyone’s reaction to it. No words are spoken, with emotions only and camera work, Feliciano is capable of telling us everything we need to know about nine months’ worth of story. In one sequence, Feliciano tells us exactly who she is as a filmmaker, in one sequence, we see that this is a filmmaker that has a lot to say.

Describing Women is Losers is hard, simply because trying to put words to the emotions of what I felt just doesn’t always work. It’s not a film that will work for everyone, I get it. The fact that it is on the nose does so much with very little time and too often over relies on its breaking the fourth wall device does make it a film that you might not enjoy. The thing is, none of that mattered to me. Why? Because I felt connected to it. I might not have lived Celina’s life but I understood it, I felt like I knew her, I have grown up with women like her. A single mom who wants to make it on her own and yet, the world does everything to stop her? I know that woman, that woman is my mother, my aunts, my neighbours. I have always seen her and for the first time, I saw her on-screen. It felt personal but also used the type of filmmaking that makes me excited, that brings me joy. Because even in the darkest time, joy is also there and this film understands that. So yes, Women is Losers might not be for everyone, but it was exactly what I needed.