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  • Writer's pictureNatasha Cara

Film review of Soltera Codiciada AKA How to get over a breakup:The intersection between life& art

Updated: Jul 4, 2019

Sometimes it feels like life is playing a huge ironic joke on me. The amount of things that I read in the news and songs that I hear on the radio which seem to correspond with me and my own current life situation never ceases to surprise me. Ariana Grande’s ‘Thank u, next’ has been my anthem for the past few weeks now as I wholeheartedly agree with positively reflecting on past relationships and exes with kindness rather than bitterness; using your experiences as tool for growth and development despite the pain they caused you. Joanna Lombardi’s filmSoltera Codiciada (How to get over a breakup) has deeply resonated with me. I’m always seeking to challenge myself and play with new formats on the blog. I’ve tried investigative journalling, tour guide exposés and now I’ve decided to do a film review/ storytime. I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago about the blog and how I don’t want it to simply be an account of my weekly adventures. Ouisíyes is kind of like an extension of me- it’s a blank canvas and I have the creative control to do whatever I like with it. It’s made by me, for me. Of course I want to keep people updated on my whereabouts and happenings on this year abroad but its also- perhaps selfishly- it's a compendium of all of my experiences- highs and lows, general musings and like today more personal instances. So if you aren’t into personal ‘storytime-esque’ posts then this one may not be for you and I will not be offended at all if you’re not interested in reading the whole article.

About six months ago my ex-boyfriend and I broke up. It didn’t come as a shock to either of us as it had been building for some time. I was about to embark on a summer in Paris and then to nine months in Valencia and he was about to enter the world of secondary education working as a teacher. Our worlds were going in opposite directions and we figured it would be better to end it there and then before distance became an issue. Since we had had discussion about ending our two-year relationship prior to it happening (as well as having broken up previously, before reconciling shortly after earlier in the year) I thought that I would deal with it quite well- or rather as well as one can. Little did I know that the following months would be some of the most tumultuous and emotional exhaustive I would ever experience.

Little did I know that the following months would be some of the most tumultuous and emotional exhaustive I would ever experience.

He was my first love and I’d never dealt with a proper break up before. The first time it happened I went through many of the supposed five stages of a breakup: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I only managed to get through three before we reconciled. But this final time in summer was much harder to get over. Someone once told me that the amount of time it takes to truly get over someone is to multiply the length of the relationship by two. No way was it going to take almost four years for me to get over my ex! I’m the not the most patient person at the best of times but four years seemed like an eternity. Someone else told me that you never truly get over your first love (advice which wasn’t totally reassuring to me). Regardless I can firmly say that even now, six months later I’m still processing it all.

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance

In lots of teenage rom-coms or dramas the female protagonist is nearly always portrayed as the “dumpee”- she sits at home eating ice cream, sporadically bursting into tears at the mere sight of a memento from her relationship before meeting a new boy before embarking on a new relationship. Life isn’t always like a rom-com and as the instigator of the break up I naively thought that this wouldn’t happen to me- boy was I wrong. I initially didn’t process the breakup- I was swept up in living the fast life in Paris. I was meeting loads of new people; working 9-5 in a new job- I even considered dating (terrible terrible idea) duping myself into believing that I was ready to put myself out there. At the time I didn’t have much time to truly recognise that I was dealing with a breakup. I dealt with it by not dealing with it at all. If I could ignore it then it wasn’t really happening, right? Wrong. When you avoid something so profound, something that you need to truly go through- the extreme highs and lows to fully understand it- it will come back and bite you on the a*se in time.

If I could ignore it then it wasn’t really happening, right?

My summer in Paris came to an end, as did my ignorance towards the whole situation. As I moved to Valencia the realisation and the severity of what had happened suddenly dawned on me and I couldn’t process it all. I realised in my first formative weeks in Spain what I had gone though- and was still going through- was the biggest period of change in my life. I couldn’t cope with it all. Stage 4 finally hit me- depression. I cried all of the time, little things would trigger of a wave of emotion- I could be sitting on the beach, behind my desk at work or simply listening to a song that reminded me of him and I would feel a pang of loss and emotion. I’m sad to say that I turned to rom-coms to help me get through it all- I became ‘that girl’. Vicky Christina Barcelona consumed me and I felt so many parallels with Liz Gilbert and I feared that my poor housemates- who hadn’t known me that long- would think of was an uncontrollable, emotional mess as I retired to my room each night to bawl myself to sleep and it became a running joke amongst us that my favourite film was Eat Pray love.

I dealt with it by not dealing with it at all

These lows, in tandem with moving abroad, language barriers and an overwhelming sense of loneliness almost broke me and there were times that I wanted to go home. I remember seeing a Netflix ad for a new Spanish language film ‘How to get over a break up’ and laughing at the irony of the title. I vowed to watch it when it came out but quickly forgot about it. That was until yesterday evening. I was feeling inspired from my recent trip to Madrid (blogpost incoming) and I decided to watch a Spanish language film and surprise surprise ‘How to get over a breakup’ was at the top of my recommended list.

These lows… almost broke me and there were times that I wanted to go home

The film follows Maria Fe, often referred to as Mafe, a young copywriter in Lima, Peru whose long-term boyfriend of six years ends their relationship over Skype (brutal I know). It follows her story as she attempts to navigate the post-relationship world, tackling the unknown territories of Tinder and Modern dating whilst chronicling her progress as a newly single woman in her blog. Sound familiar?

The arc of the story isn’t exactly ground breaking but it really resonated with me and how I was feeling. Its based on the true story of Maria Jose Osario who created the blog and the film shows how the breakup impacts different aspects of your life- your job, self-esteem and relationships with others. I really liked how Lombardi and Ascenzo delved into what it meant to lose your identity when in a relationship and the struggles of forging your own identity whilst also showing the pitfalls of rushing into a new relationship. I- like many others- believed that I couldn’t be on my own after a break-up and I was searching for something that my ex and me had in other people. Mafe clings onto the best parts of her relationship with Matias- she even sees a reincarnated subconscious figure of him guiding her through. Gisela Ponce de León is as Mafe is an archetype for all heartbroken girls- I could see myself within her- despite being the one who ended the relationship. Needless to say- it doesn’t matter who ends the relationship, its ended and your feelings of melancholy and grief are still valid.

The vibrant cityscape of Lima, Peru is something not often seen in many mainstream films and I loved the attention to detail in Mafe’s apartment- its vivacious colours reflecting her creativity and quirky personality. I definitely had wanderlust in from seeing the backdrops of Lima’s street art- the film still had a western vibe and although it was rom a Peruvian woman’s perspective Mafe acts like an everyman figure for all broken-hearted girls in the wake of a breakup. The theme of friendship is also prevalent in the film and it was refreshing to see a female protagonist being guided by both male and female friends providing a double-sided perspective on how to deal with the end of a relationship. I myself followed the advice of friends and sought solace in those who knew me best- however the film’s underlying theme is to follow your gut and instinct- only Mafe knows what is truly right for her and she must come to her own conclusions.

So what does the film actually teach you about getting over a break up? It's more about finding yourself, breakups take time and are often not a quick fix. It's okay to relapse and reminisce about your ex- we do often fantasise and replay the good times- kind of like an Instagram highlight reel. Soltera Codiciada is also about finding your voice as a woman, accepting you you are an surpassing the fear of being alone. Each breakup is individual and takes time- feeling low and sad are totally valid and normal- heck I still feel like that even now sometimes; but you have to live in the moment and not dwell in the past for too long as part of the process of moving on.

My own advice- for anyone going through a break up and also as a reiteration for myself- is to smile a bit more- even forcing yourself to at the start may be challenging but you cannot let the sadness eclipse your mood everyday. Remember and be grateful for the things you have- breaking up may seem like the worst thing in the world now but we each have something we are all thankful for. My final bit of advice is breathe. Take your time to breathe and don't rush- its a process and it will take a while to truly feel like yourself again.

The film left me feeling inspired and optimistic. Inspired to write this post and optimistic for the future. I hadn’t realised that I’m still grieving the loss of the relationship- but in my own way. Mafe was like a reflection of me and our journeys are almost identical it’s uncanny. I was particularly proud that I watched the film in Spanish (with the help of Spanish subtitles but still…) and despite the geographical and language differences it showed me that heartbreak doesn’t discriminate and it is a universal feeling. However, I know that in time it can and will be overcome. I’m discovering myself more and more each day and writing about my feelings in my personal journey and on the blog does help me to understand the situation a little better. I’m still in the midst of the breakup- it’s a process, an indeterminable one, that I know can’t be rushed. Six months later and I still cry about the breakup but not of often as I used to and I do find myself lost in memories from the past. I’m truly grateful for the time and memories I shared with my ex- he was and will always be a huge part of my life and my university experience. For me, the next step is learning to be comfortable my own- something which I am striving to do each day- and acknowledging that being alone and being lonely are two very different things. So if you’re going through a breakup, are looking for a good Spanish language film or if you simply want to see an empowering film about a boss ass babe who (eventually) triumphs through heartbreak, then Soltera Codiciada is the film for you.

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