Las Elegidas (The Chosen Ones), by the Mexican director David Pablos, depicts the misfortunes of a young Mexican couple living in Tijuana, near the American-Mexican border which is known for its illegal sex trafficking. The film gets under your skin by Pablos’ realistic representation of Mexican hard-knock life. The film was selected in Cannes this year in the Un Certain Regard-section.
In this modern version of Shakespeares’ Romeo & Juliet, the more honourable Ulysses (Oscar Torres) falls in love of 14-year-old Sofia (Nancy Talamantes), but he is forced by his family’s tradition to turn her into a prostitute. Just like his father and brother, he is meant to trick all of his girlfriends into a web they’ll never escape from again. Despite the fact that Sofia was supposed to be his ‘first one’, Ulysses sincerely loves the girl and wants to buy her off from his own father, which is not allowed without him giving another girl in return. Consequently, the entire scenario seems to repeat itself, including another birthday party for the father to introduce the girl to the family. This rather ironic and repetitive representation gives the film its lighter tone and functions as a break from the otherwise dominant pessimistic and almost hopeless atmosphere, this time with another protagonist though, namely the poor Marta (Leidi Gutiérrez). As such, this film portrays the brutal violence these young girls get confronted with every day in real life, without any mercy or regret.
One strong technical aspect of Las Elegidas is the use of asynchronous sound, which means that the soundtrack runs separately from the visuals. Actions that are not shown to the audience on purpose are nonetheless covered by post and pre-synchronisation or remarkable shifts in volume. So for example all the horrible experiences Sofia has to undergo in the whore house are nonetheless directly linked together by the sound fragments and dramatic soundtrack. In general, the relation between image and sound enables the audience to experience the tragic of being forced into prostitution by the one you love and trusted and sexual abuse through the eyes of the young Sofia.
Las Elegidas perfectly illustrates that being ‘chosen’ is not always a gift from God unfortunately.