Everybody Loves Somebody

 

            Those of us who live in parts of the country populated by many Hispanics encounter many functional bilinguals.  They have the fascinating ability to switch back and forth between English and Spanish, sometimes in the same paragraph, sometimes even in the same sentence, as if both are their native languages, which they are.

            “Everybody Loves Somebody” is a modern film that features many such bilingual characters.  The credits begin in Spanish, then there's an English overdub, then the characters are speaking Spanish with English subtitles, then the characters speak English (but no Spanish subtitles).  So, obviously, the assumption is that the audience will be able to understand English, and if they also hear the Spanish, well, that's just a bonus.  Just like in the “real lives” of true bilinguals.

            “Everybody Loves Somebody” is also a Millenialist comedy, where the main character, Clara (Karla Souza) is a young professional woman (an ob/gyn physician) who is single, living in L.A. But with strong family ties to her parents in Mexico.  She also has a sister, who also lives in L.A., who's married to an Anglo who doesn't even pretend to speak Spanish (he says he'll learn when she observes Yom Kippur with him), and they have a son who's also growing up bilingual.  Clara and her sister are both close to their parents, and travel frequently to Mexico to see them for family gatherings, where everybody enjoys the fabulous seaside house with the spectacular view of the ocean.  Sounds like Clara has the perfect life, right?

            Ah, but Clara is also kind of a mess, and her own worst enemy.  We see her get drunk in a local bar, pick up some guy, go to his house to sleep together, and then she slips out the door before he wakes up, never intending to see him again.  She seems to have intimacy issues----separating the physical from the emotional---but she doesn't see a shrink, and ignores her sister's advice to maybe spend some time on a relationship that might have a future.

            But then their Mom and Dad decide, after 40 years of living together, to actually get married to each other, with a formal ceremony by the ocean, and Clara, the maid of honor, feels it would be embarrassing to show up without a date.  So she asks one of the physician interns at her clinic, Asher (Ben O'Toole, with an inconsistent Aussie accent).  Asher, it turns out, is a young widower who would indeed be interested in Clara, except she's got even more emotional baggage:  her ex-boyfriend shows up at the wedding.  Daniel (Jose Maria Yazpik) had been wandering around South America for the last 8 years, working for Doctors Without Borders, but now he suddenly seems ready to re-insert himself into Clara's life, and now she's really confused.  She finds she still has feelings for Daniel, but she's afraid he'll just up and leave again one day.  Daniel is condescending toward Asher, calling him her little koala, as if the diminutive describes his lightweight romantic status with her.  Daniel is quite aware of the effect he still has on Clara.  Asher, wary of Clara's inconsistency, wisely decides to absent himself from this complicated situation, but Clara, still conflicted, keeps trying to draw him back in.

            Yes, it's another permutation of the old love triangle.  It seems the solution should be simple enough—-Clara just needs to make up her mind---but instead she lashes out at everyone, managing to argue with both Daniel and Asher, and have a confusing heart-to-heart with her Mom, and saying really mean things to her sister, who's done nothing but support her.  She even says mean things to patients.  Well, we think we know who we're rooting for here, but it's difficult to like Clara, even though she is cute and accessible and vulnerable;  she's also selfish and self-indulgent and stubborn, and is not good at thinking through the consequences of her actions.  Hmm, come to think of it, maybe that sounds like the rest of us more than we'd like to admit.

 

Questions for Discussion:

1)                  Have you ever been part of a love triangle?  Did it turn out well?

2)                  Have you ever had an old flame suddenly re-appear and complicate things?  Did that turn out well?

3)                  How hard is it to be truly bilingual?

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association