Romantic comedies with teenagers can become a big deal. Anyone who thinks that reproducing certain visions of the world in a society that is characterized precisely by no longer accepting impositions of behavior, ready-made formulas, the perpetuation of certain value judgments, prejudices, will certainly fall by the wayside. It is exactly in this particular that “Você Nem Imagina” is inserted.
The production, directed by Chinese-American filmmaker Alice Wu, released in 2020, lends itself to being a coming-of-age milestone: she heard the cry from the audience and realized the need to switch subgenres. The basic structure of these narratives, prodigal by nature of extolling the erratic and unsuitable posture of the individual in formation, has not changed. What we see again in movies like “You Can’t Imagine” is how the central character deals with his own lack of order.
Without wanting to reinvent the wheel or go too far from the predictable, at least at first, the plot focuses on the life of Ellie Chu, a typical Squahamish country girl, who lives with her father, one more solitary than the other. other. An exemplary student, the protagonist, played by Leah Lewis, uses her talent as a writer to earn some money by writing texts for her colleagues. One day, he receives a commission from Paul Mansky, through Daniel Diemer, who asks him to write a romantic letter to Aster Flores, played by Alexxis Lemire, one of the prettiest girls in school, to whom he turns. interested. Ellie accepts the task, not knowing that from there a journey of self-knowledge will unfold for her, with the consequent overcoming of the misconceptions she had about herself, a process that takes place not without pain. .
Alice Wu proves to be a director of the pulse, without renouncing the delicacy that is demanded of her. “Você Nem Imagina” is far from being a simple love story between teenagers, obviously involved in the strange situations in which all, more or less, find themselves. Wu strives – and in many cases effectively succeeds – in extracting cutting-edge recordings from his trio of leads, all of whom deliver precise, if not exceptional, performances in given takes. The interest of the scenario is to take as allies the countless clichés of the genre, subverting us at the right time. Which holds some nice surprises.
As Ellie and Paul grow closer, it’s clear something is going to happen between the two. The narrative suggests that Paul’s passion for the nerd that helps him conquer Aster, which actually materializes, is only a matter of time. On the other hand, Ellie, who obviously already knew herself to be homosexual long before Paul’s muse entered her life – at first, only collaterally – began to develop a need for self-affirmation, feeling like a impostor, a usurper of herself. as they go, letting go of the full experience of their sexuality based on who knows what. She does not think of any love affair with Paul, even less that he, at a certain moment of their coexistence, will have this desire for her.
Untying this dramatic knot, as one might assume, is far from simple, but Wu gets the job done with ease. The open homosexual condition is a factor that gives him a great advantage in exhibiting an apparently irrelevant, perhaps silly conflict, in the light of the urgent reflection on the exercise of alternative sexualities in adolescence, a stage of the life in which all kinds of experiences . From there, the character of Alexxis Lemire gains strength. Refuting any stereotypes, the director notices the actress’ great ability to deliver much more than is asked of her and invests heavily in Aster, who receives letters from her colleague with interest, but soon suspects that there is something wrong. something mysterious there. Certainly the most innocent of the trio, Aster begins to pay attention to the details of her own life that passed her by. She knows her relationship with Trig Carson, played by Wolfgang Novogratz, is a hoax – so much so that she admits to having clandestine meetings with Paul. As her relationship with Ellie grows closer, Aster discovers that she might be interested in her new friend. His life had been one of self-deception, self-sabotage, lies, but it was comfortable. And now?
As the director wishes to make clear in the introduction to “Você nem Imagina”, her film is not a love story, nor the almost inexorable dramas that result from it – of love and its lack -, warning the viewer about, unlike Ellie, Paul and Aster, to preserve their lucidity and not to fool themselves for nothing. The magic of love that so many tapes the film industry has dropped year after year talks about doesn’t happen here. As in the poem “Quadrilha”, by Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902-1987), Paul loves Ellie, who loves Aster, who says he loves Ellie, but only loves himself, or seems to love. We can say in her defense that she is the most immature of the three, the most precarious, the most innocent, as we have already said, but what in reality justifies the dubious character of the character is, basically , not to love each other. , and, therefore, not being accepted — and, contrary to what we observe in the character of Leah Lewis, for very clear reasons. Aster could not bear to disappoint her parents, her friends, the provincial society in which she grew up, just to give rise to what seems to her an ephemeral adventure. Using the powerful pictorial resource of the physical farewell on a station platform, as seen in passages distributed throughout the history of cinema, in films such as “The Sunflowers of Russia” (1970), Vittorio De Sica (1901-1974), “Call Me By Your Name” (2017), by Luca Guadagnino, and “A Lucky Man” (2018), directed by Billie August, Ellie boards a train to a new life – and the one who takes him there is not Aster, but Paul.
Alice Wu was honest: her film is not a love story, at least not romantic love. With “Você nem Imagina”, the director extrapolates any preconceived idea that one might have about her or the story she wants to tell, and does not just satisfy the public’s will, even if that may involve inconvenience. . Precisely by dribbling all the clichés, the plot closes an authentic, luminous, revealing work on one of the most controversial facets of man. Living a great love is a chance that not everyone has, and yet life proves to be superior to any alleged disappointment, making us discover true friends. And friendship is love made in separate beds.
Film: you can’t even imagine
Direction: Alice Wu
To note: 9/10