Contemporary World Cinema

Tamara and the Ladybug

Lucía Carreras

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Two women, living on the margins of their society, become the unlikely caretakers for a lost baby, in director Lucía Carreras’ compelling and heartfelt exploration of loneliness, female friendship, and the social ills afflicting contemporary Mexico.

Doña Meche's mentally disabled neighbor Tamara has innocently brought home a baby that she found sitting at a newsstand. Tamara is a woman in her forties who has recently been abandoned by her only family, and the septuagenarian Meche is her sole confidant. Knowing that, despite Tamara's disability, local law enforcement would treat this as a kidnapping, Meche decides to keep it between the two of them; she will teach Tamara how to care for the baby girl while they look for the parents. But Tamara cannot remember where she "found" her. And so, even as these two marginalized women embark on a quest to find the family of the little "Ladybug," the trio becomes a new family unto itself, albeit an atypical and temporary one.

Lucía Carreras' third feature film depicts the journey of the unlikely pair as they traverse Mexico City and its layers of bureaucracy. Their unsuccessful encounters at police headquarters and child shelters are a troubling barometer of the many social ills afflicting contemporary Mexico. The appalling treatment of Indigenous peoples, the lack of funding for orphaned children and support for the disabled, and the corruption in the police force — all these are parts of Carreras' poignant and upsetting tapestry.

At the centre of the film, though, is the camaraderie that springs up between the two women. Tamara and the Ladybug is a compelling and heartfelt portrait of female loneliness and friendship. And its seemingly simple story raises some complicated questions, suggesting in the end that sometimes what is "right" is more a question of circumstance than of laws or morality.

DIANA SANCHEZ

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