Because not only books written in English deserve to be adapted to film or television, it is absolutely positive that novels like “La uruguaya” or “I’m not going to ask anyone to believe me”, by the Argentine Pedro Mairal and the Mexican Juan Pablo Villalobos , respectively, will soon have their streaming premiere, the first via Star Plus (a few weeks ago it could be seen in some theaters in Latin America) and the second through Netflix. We are talking, coincidentally, about ‘non-Spanish’ titles (in Spain it is adapted a little more frequently), relatively recent (they were published in 2016), praised and even awarded.
Although long before these projects saw the light of day, books written in our language were also adapted to film and TV, but those were different times. The race of streaming networks to convert literary – or non-fiction – texts into meaningful images is today frenetic. Rights to works that have not even been published in the entire globe are even auctioned (20 production companies fought for “The Age of Vice” by the Hindu writer Deepti Kapoor without you or I being able to read it in Spanish. And it will finally come out on FX) .
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There is, however, a novel written in these lands that has been able to cross both currents. We are talking about the drama/thriller/psychological portrait “The Widows of Thursdays”, with which the writer Claudia Piñeiro won the 2005 Clarín Novel Prize. The story, described by specialists as “a fierce and precise portrait of Argentina” post 2000, it was adapted to film in 2009 by Marcelo Piñeyro. And, almost 14 years later, it comes to streaming by director Humberto Hinojosa Ozcariz, under the mantle of Netflix, although presented 100% in Mexican key.
“The Widows of Thursdays” presents the story of five families who live in Los Altos de la Cascada, a luxurious set of rooms with gardens, swimming pools, tennis courts, that is, a series of elements that at first glance seem exactly the same. necessary to “be happy.”
Alfonso Bassave as Gustavo Maldonado, Sasha González as Ramona Andrade, Zuria Vega as Mariana Andrade, Gerardo Trejo Luna as Ernesto Andrade in “Las Viudas de los Jueves” (Photo: Camila Jurado / Netflix)
But the six-episode miniseries (almost all between 45 minutes and an hour long) has its main subject matter precisely in the antonym of happiness. We are not facing a procession of sad events or complaints about the unfortunate fate. “The Widows of Thursdays” is fundamentally a dark and at times extremely daring proposal about the privileges that a sector of Latin American society harbors.
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Five of the six chapters present one by one the story of the protagonist families of this Netflix series. The other, coincidentally the first, is a kind of ‘preview’ in which something will become clear to us: the outcome of the events occurs on the night of any given December 26th. The Christmas trees illuminating the green gardens of Los Altos de la Cascada join a chorus of elements that are repeated from mansion to mansion: housekeepers, gardeners, drivers, drinks, food, drugs and occasional sex, with their partner or with a lover.
Looking only at this last list of elements, “Thursday Widows” could be just another mini series about the anguish of the powerful on the verge of losing their privileges. However, Hinojosa Ozcariz’s proposal (we say it this way because at this point it is clear what Piñeiro herself said: she had no participation in the script and could only see some already edited cuts of the video) goes further. And for that it may be necessary to tell a little about the five families.
Tano Scaglia (Omar Chaparro) and Teresa Scaglia (Irene Azuela) are perhaps the most pretentious couple in history. He, an executive who is abruptly fired, cannot control his wife’s desire for luxury (planning a repeatedly postponed trip to another country). The sinister mind of this luxury watch fetishist, however, partly contrasts with the way he approaches his love life. Something like “They are a daring couple,” says the narration, anticipating that ‘Tano’ could calmly let his wife sleep with the humble gardener of the house.
Irene Azuela as Teresa Scaglia, Mayra Hermosillo as Lala de la Luna, and Zuria Vega as Mariana Andrade in “Las Viudas de los Jueves”. (Camila Jurado / Netflix)
Perhaps the most notoriously mismatched couple in “Thursday Widows” is Ronie Guevara (Juan Pablo Medina) and Mavi Guevara (Cassandra Ciangherotti). He, a publicist who was fired and sank into nothingness, ending up becoming a marijuana addict. She, who, although she cannot give up her luxuries, does not stay in her seat and puts her family on her shoulder. Although – as in the previous case – there is also sexual dissatisfaction on her part. First repressed and finally not.
In third place are Martín de la Luna (Pablo Cruz Guerrero) and Lala de La Luna (Mayra Hermosillo). As happens in many Mexican productions that dramatically mix power and privilege, he is a politician from an old party who tries to separate himself from the corrupt image of his father and rather get closer to the positive one held by his grandfather. The problem is that he has been portrayed as a conservative without an ideology that goes beyond defending ‘the idea of the traditional family’. He is, likewise, a clumsy man, completely unaware of that social reality that he tries to approach in his improvised but expensive campaign spots.
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The fourth family is made up of Gustavo Maldonado (Alfonso Bassave) and Carla Maldonado (Sofía Sisniga). We are faced with a Spaniard who comes to live late in Los Altos de la Cascada and comes with his wife, whom he did not notify of the move and from whom he took all her belongings. Although the way a scoundrel is portrayed seems somewhat typical, it is interesting to see how the character in question quickly reveals his layers until he goes from a foreigner with a charming accent to a man sick with jealousy, oppressor and aggressor of the only woman who loved him. supports and waits inside the house 24/7.
Finally, Ernesto Andrade (Gerardo Trejoluna) and Mariana Andrade (Zuria Vega) make up a very particular couple. He, a renowned plastic surgeon and she, a housewife who tries to convince him to get involved with the husbands of his ‘neighborhood’ friends. Although sentimentally the couple breaks the mold with respect to the previous ones (this one does seem to love each other, or at least love each other), we will quickly realize that they carry the procession inside, well, one of the two adopted children that they shelter and raise in house (Ramona/Sasha González) demands with righteous rebellion that they inform her about her true origin. The refusal of her adoptive parents will create an absolutely plausible tension on screen, with Ernesto who has already thrown in the towel and Mariana who will not let herself be defeated by a teenager who raises her voice at the family table.
Sasha González as Ramona Andrade and Diego Bernal as Juandi Guevara. There is an interesting cast in “Las Viudas de los Jueves” (Photo: Camila Jurado / Netflix)
Adorning these family scenes there are, not only the elements that we mentioned above (gardens, drivers, drinks, etc.), but fundamentally a sub cast of teenagers who also contribute their own. This is not the time to say which character is the son of this or that family, but it is clear that none of them are part of a happy family despite the modern vans in which they go to school or the expensive smartphones from which they record, and here is the detail, the trigger for the great tragedy that fuels “The Widows of Thursdays.”
The miniseries is based on a group of adults who have established and accepted hierarchies (except for the exception of Mavi that we mentioned before) for more than a century: the man provides (who knows if from clean sources) and the woman “enjoys” everything without any other requirements other than many employees, a closet full of clothes, ostentatious meetings and, of course, the possibility of meeting one day a week with her friends from the ‘neighborhood’ (“They call us the widows of on Thursdays because that day we get together and our husbands don’t exist. To this would be added a second group made up of teenagers. Both groups make up a universe that Humberto Hinojosa Ozcariz has been able to isolate with precision. Except for two or three exits from Los Altos de la Cascada, everything else happens there. We are talking, then, about a kind of fortress – infinitely green – in which you differentiate yourself from the middle class, perhaps because no one will be able to rip your cell phone out of your hands to steal it, but in the end you end up approved when you have truncated ambitions, impossible dreams and great frustrations are involved.
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Although she has never hidden her fundamental concerns (the space of women in society, femicides, the right to free abortion, etc.), the writer Claudia Piñeiro (“Betibú”, “Elena knows”, “The Time of the Flies” and even “Cathedrals” itself, and more) is fundamentally a brilliant creator of good suspense stories. In that sense, if the Mexican adaptation of “The Widows of Thursdays” makes a few thousand Netflix viewers go in search of the novel, it will surely be worth it.
“The Widows of Thursdays”, a novel by Claudia Piñeiro that is used for this Netflix adaptation.
THURSDAY’S WIDOWS/ NETFLIX
Synopsis: Teresa (Irene Azuela) returns home and finds her husband, Tano (Omar Chaparro), and two of her friends dead. The tragedy shocks the other residents of the luxurious Altos de las Cascadas urbanization, who call it an accident. But doubts soon arise about the extent to which these deaths are “accidental”, doubts that will demonstrate that in the Cascade Heights nothing is as perfect as it seems.
Director: Humberto Hinojosa Ozcariz
List: Cassandra Ciangherotti, Omar Chaparro, Mayra Hermosillo, Pablo Cruz Guerrero, Alonso Bassave, Zuria Vega
Qualification: four out of five stars
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