La Veronica (2020)

Shot with a static camera in a perpetual medium close-up of the lead character, this disquieting Chilean take on the perils of being a social media celebrity rings hollow, ironically in a phenomenologically truthful way. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dir. Leonardo Medel
2020 | Chile | Drama | 100 mins | 1.85:1 | Spanish
Not rated – likely to be at least M18

Cast: Mariana Di Girolamo, Antonia Giesen, Ariel Mateluna
Plot: Veronica, a very popular model on social networks, falls out of favor when she discovers that she is the main suspect in an investigation for the murder of her first daughter.
Awards: Nom. for Horizons Award (San Sebastian)
International Sales: Films Boutique

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Social Media, Celebrity Culture
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: Screener
Spoilers: No

Directed by Leonardo Medel (his fifth feature), and starring Mariana Di Girolamo, whose leading role here surely recalls her breakthrough performance as the insecure titular character in Pablo Larrain’s Ema (2019), La Veronica is a striking film insofar as its visual style is concerned. 

Shot in a perpetual medium close-up of Veronica (quite like Son of Saul), but with the camera fully static on a tripod as if it is a piece-to-camera, the story is told through match cut after match cut (which may lose its novelty after a while) of Veronica in different settings—Instagramming with her friends; speaking to her biographer, husband (a famous fictional Chilean footballer), mother; privately interrogated by a state prosecutor (for a crime she may have committed), and publicly interviewed on a national news show. 

All these fragments (though some are in long takes) reveal layers—emotional and psychological—that make up the lived experiences of the character.  Yes, she lives a high-profile life of luxury and privilege, but do we really know Veronica—and can we really see through her to locate the real her? 

In a way, Medel has made a disquieting work about the perils of being a social media celebrity—Veronica is obsessed in getting the 2M followers she needs to be the exclusive face of a high-end brand, and will do anything to achieve her goal. 

Depending on how one might take to its unconventional visual and storytelling concept, La Veronica may ultimately ring hollow as a cinematic experience, though ironically as a commentary on the social media experience this ‘hollowness’ may be truthful from a phenomenologically perspective. 

Grade: B


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