“The girls are fine”, by Itsaso Arana: portraits of actresses in rehearsals

Image taken from “The Girls Are Fine,” by Itsaso Arana.


We left Itsaso Arana dazzled, in Eva in August (2020), Spanish film by her companion, Jonas Trueba, in which she played the title role: that of a young woman with Madonna’s beauty, wandering alone in Madrid one summer, wandering bringing encounters and of dialogues of which the high-speed actress alone has the secret – she had co-signed the script of this Rohmerian work, a sort of Green ray (1986) in reverse, which on the contrary followed a heroine afraid of being alone.

Itsaso Arana, also a theater director, won us over just as much in The Reconquista (2016), by the same Trueba, the story of two “exes” who meet again and spend the night replaying their story – a sublime film which has not been released in France, apart from a few screenings.

The young woman, born in 1985, went behind the camera, while starring in her first feature film, The girls are fine. A group of actresses meet in the summer, in a country house, to rehearse a costume play. Between working on the texts and the rest of the time – at the river, during a village festival – a tiny web is woven, which we could call “life”. Don’t expect funny scenes with stars like in The Actresses’ Ball (2009), by Maïwenn, nor of heartbreaks as in The Almond Trees (2022), by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi.

A prince waiting for a kiss

The girls are fine instead looks for moments of grace and sometimes succeeds in finding them: there will be no drama, it’s less salesy, it can be confusing, which says a lot about our expectation of darkness and hard blows, without which a film would not be worth the trip. Dramaturgy is not the heart of this half-fictional, half-documentary work: one of the protagonists is pregnant, another forms a relationship with a village boy; a frog, found nearby, almost becomes a prince waiting for a kiss; a little girl from the village spends time with the troupe, who invite her to play. Itsaso Arana, who plays a director with the same first name, recounts how waiting for the death of her father, along with the women in her family, marked a turning point in her life.

The filmmaker seeks to tell how life affects creative processes, and it is by listening to her actresses that the mechanism of the play is put into place. In The girls are fineItsaso Arana ultimately remains quite close to the heroines she plays in Eva in August And The Reconquista – apart from the hair, which she now wears short – as if each of these works were a form of self-portrait.

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