Right in the middle of her child’s birthday party, newcomer Ana Paula (Paulina Gaitán) confronts proud Sofía (Ilse Salas), telling her that every girl wants to live like a princess. “Or what did you think? That only you?”, she adds, with a defiant tone. The carefully constructed scene pulls the unraveling strings of Sofia’s life, revealing the highly charged class tensions running through the film, as she faces her family’s financial ruin. It’s 1982, and the Mexican economy is collapsing.
Loosely based on Guadalupe Loaeza’s satirical book of the same name, Alejandra Márquez Abella’s The Good Girls focuses on Sofia, a socialite with a seemingly perfect life, who spends her days keeping up appearances, enjoying tennis matches and breakfast with her friends at the club, and getting the best beauty treatments while ignoring her family as much as she can. As the Mexican peso falls apart during José López Portillo’s term as president, Sofia’s fortune disappears. Although it might seem easy to ridicule a rich girl and her lifestyle, as other far more popular Mexican films do, Márquez Abella’s script finds empathy for Sofia and her personal crisis, while exposing her deep flaws and classism without judging her. Sofia and her friends Alejandra (Cassandra Ciangherotti) and Inés (Johanna Murillo) live in a golden cage. They’re beautiful subjects that live in perpetual apathy, in a dream world, and will run away in their champagne-colored Ford Grand Marquis when reality knocks on their door.
The most charming aspect of this movie, more than its incisive script, visionary direction, brilliant costume and production design, upbeat music, wonderful cinematography and mesmerizing performances, is how it reflects the current state of Mexico’s society, and how little has changed in almost 40 years. The life of these rich women and what they represent is still seen as aspirational in 2019, and we’re all trying to break into this exclusive world, despite everything we know about the Mexican one-percenters: the corruption scandals, the links to organized crime, the deep-rooted classism, misogyny and racism. Like Ana Paula, we’re trying to get into that golden cage, despite the Sofias and Alejandras that will fight tooth and nail to defend their space.