BFI Flare film review: Camila Comes Out Tonight
Jasmine Valentine | On 25, Mar 2022
Director: Inés María Barrionuevo
Cast: Nina Dziembrowski, Adriana Ferrer, Federico Sack, Carolina Rojas
This film is one of 10 streaming online as part of BFI Flare 2022. For more information about the festival and how it works, click here.
When her grandmother becomes increasingly ill, Camila is forced to move to the inner city of Buenos Aires. Struggling to get her voice heard in a new school, she resists the reins of her teachers, peers, and mother.
Taking global social outcry to the streets of Argentina, Camila Comes Out Tonight straddles the balance between classic coming-of-age and upcoming political activism. While its message dissects the ramifications of a culturally astute youth, the film’s essence falls flat in delivery. Despite a stellar leading performance from Nina Dziembrowski as Camila, it’s often difficult to establish exactly what her cinematic namesake is trying to be.
Full of raucously seductive parties, sneaking out and hot crushes, director Inés María Barrionuevo plays into the well-worn motifs of teenagehood with ease. Camila is self-assured and confident, angry with the world and her world within it. She’s a mirror of the many teens who have kicked off and slammed a door in someone’s face, yet has a deeply embedded political nuance that sings to the age of Gen Z. Unafraid to vocalise her challenges to the status quo, each character comes packed with a message and unashamed social standing.
While the streets of Buenos Aires are lit with romanticised hues rarely seen in foreign media, there’s a sense of beautification to what Camila Comes Out Tonight chooses to show. Time stands still in the intimacy of sharing a lipstick, sexual tensions overflow under the frisson of a plastic sheet. Pubic hair is shown as a bodily autonomous right, as the back of a girl’s neck emerges as a sensual hallmark. The play of visual cues makes for a delicious palette against an ambiguous narrative structure.
What Camila Comes Out Tonight lacks is clarity. Repeated advances are made towards campaigning for abortion rights without explaining the broader social context — or how it directly shapes Camila. The inciting incident of the grandmother’s illness does little else other than allow the drama to begin, bringing along an unspoken “what if” in a long-lost female companion. As the film examines the cultural importance of political neutrality, it’s not always clear where such a strong moral compass comes from — whether outbursts are merely a byproduct of traditional teenage angst, or if they stem from something wider than purely maternal tensions.
With a powerful message that is often not grounded in context, Camila Comes Out Tonight is a curious and puzzling watch. The shifts in sexual fluidity sometimes shift towards dangerous queer stereotyping, although the emboldening of teenage instincts are both joyful and vindicating. This sensory portrayal of ethics not equalling morality can be as confusing as the statement itself.
Camila Comes Out Tonight is streaming at BFI Flare until Saturday 26th March. Book your online ticket here.