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Blogging from San Sebastian September 21-29, 2018

Coverage Recap of 61st edition. Photo gallery 2013

Recap of 63rd edition, video I Recap of 64th edition, video I Recap of 65th edition, video



Yo También

When writing reviews for film festival movies, there are a few adjectives I've learned I will probably drop from my vocabulary: heart-warming, light, sweet... They're good adjectives for other movies, to be sure, (if a bit overused at times), but they have no place here. Nope. No way.

So when I saw Yo, También, I wasn't exactly sure how I planned to describe it, for that is what it is: heart-warming, light and sweet. It made me (and the rest of the audience) burst out laughing at times, and it stunned me silent at others. It's not the sort of movie you would expect to see at a film festival, and I love it for that.

Yo, También is the story of Daniel, a Spanish man who has Down's Syndrome. His mother decided when he was small that he was just as capable as anyone else of going to university, and so he attended and earned a degree in educational psychology. Now, he is working and living in the world just like any other regular person, and for that, he feels caught in between two worlds.

We see the parallels between the two lives he could have lead: the one he has, where he has his intelligence, his independence, his ability to hold down a normal job and interact with regular people on a daily basis, and the one that so many other people with the same syndrome lead: he watches through the window of the school for disabled people where he works in administration and envies their relative ignorance of their situation. He watches as a young couple of people with the syndrome fall in love (think The Other Sister) and rebel against their parents when they want to be treated as adults. Daniel has never known this, always having been treated as “normal” by his parents, but this normalcy or semblance thereof will become Daniel's weight to bear.

It is in falling in love with a “normal” girl, Laura, that he truly starts to question everything that he is. He cannot help wanting to be with people on his intellectual level, but, as his brother says, “No normal girl is ever going to fall in love with you.”

But the story is not only Daniel's: the woman he falls in love with is another person who does not fit in, no matter where she goes. She is estranged from her family, she does not know how to be in love. When they find one another, their friendship is the only thing that makes them both feel normal, and yet, for Daniel, this is not enough.

The story is sad, but you cannot cry: there is too much fun and happiness going on in the movie. Daniel talks to Laura about the characteristics of Down's Syndrome as though they were talking about hair color, and he sometimes uses them at her expense: he pretends not to know how to tie his shoes to get a look down her top, and at one point, while they argue in an elevator, he acts “subnormal” and causes Laura to be berated by innocent do-gooders hoping to help an innocent disabled man.

It is the juxtaposition between Daniel's lightheartedness about his condition that allows the movie to venture into deeper and darker terrain: the first time that Daniel (and the other Down's syndrome couple) make love, the fact that they are treated by “normal” people as children although they themselves feel as though they are adults. Even a bittersweet ending cannot take away from the heart-warming attributes of this film (and yes, I used a non-festival adjective).

- Emily Monaco

Fifth Row, Left Side

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About SanSebastian

Barreda de Biurrun Inés

Blogging from the 66th San Sebastian Film Festival
Reporting by Inés Barreda de Biurrun and Bruno Chatelin.

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