What Went Wrong? was the second movie made by Liliana Torres. It’s a piece of autofiction that she both directed and stars in. It’s an experimental and independent film that’s accessible on the main streaming platforms.
After the extraordinary Hayati (My Life), Torres surprises us with this movie about couples in today’s society. Today, when there’s often so much exaggeration and hype portrayed on screen, seeing a piece of cinema that deviates so much from the norm is extremely refreshing.
Through autofiction, the director seeks to reflect on her own experiences regarding her previous romantic relationships. What Went Wrong? is a representation of love and its endings in all its forms.
A reflection on life
The director was justly proud to present her unique movie at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival as well as the Seville European Film Festival.
The movie portrays Liliana’s reflection on what she did wrong for her previous three relationships to end. Did it have something to do with her attitude, she wonders. She tries to find answers, heal wounds, and achieve closure. However, the viewer doesn’t know which part of her story is true and which is fiction.
The music is by Xavier Souto and the director of photography is Lucía C. Pan.
From a personal crisis to a couple in crisis
The opening of the movie portrays a personal crisis. The viewer doesn’t know if it was triggered or exacerbated by the stagnation of Liliana’s relationship. The images reveal the harshness of life when love is fading.
The forest enchanted by the mist is nothing more than a deserted place. The quiet, comfortable town is merely the place where the patience runs out as the days go by. Everything feels uncomfortable and worn.
However, the reluctance and emptiness reflected in these images aren’t the past, but Liliana’s current life. She’s been with her partner for several years, living in a country house, away from the outside world. The movie depicts her hellish epiphany of what it really means to achieve stability in a relationship.
Liliana doesn’t hide her weariness with her partner’s way of being. The most encouraging moment is when she goes to work. Backpack and equipment in hand, she’s going to meet her previous partners, without knowing what will become of her current relationship.
A trip back in time
Liliana refuses to do a self-indulgent memory exercise with her self-esteem and her essential values to find out what happened to her partners and her past relationships. Instead, she chooses to expose herself.
In short, she visits all her ex-partners and makes a short movie with them, in which she asks each one about their relationship. In an immersive exercise, painfully intimate and filmed on a minimal budget, her stories are extremely enlightening. Indeed, on this occasion, the camera isn’t used to tell and embellish a story, but to simply record it.
The first partner that Liliana goes to visit lives in Barcelona. He was her first boyfriend, and she met him in that city where she felt active and alive. Together, they remember how they first met in a bar where he worked as a waiter. She was reading. A lightbulb burned out where she was sitting and that’s where it all started.
The happy way they both remembered that moment appeared to break the ice between them, especially for him, who was self-conscious, both at being recorded and being reunited with his ex after so long. She’s looking for answers and tells him how awful it was for her when he left her. He gives her a reason she never expected.
In fact, his explanation as to why he preferred to leave the relationship reminds us that personal mental health plays an important role in love.
Upon returning to the Galician town where she lives with her current partner, Liliana becomes extremely anxious again. The problems with her current partner aren’t part of her movie project, they’re part of her reality.
The mess she finds when she returns and the lack of food for her pet may be just minor details but, at the same time, they’re like drips of water that are slowly eroding the relationship. The sex between the two is impersonal and mechanical. She can’t even kiss him on the mouth as she finds it too intimate. They’re going through a crisis.
The second ex-partner and trip to Turin
Liliana’s second trip takes her to Turin. She finds it difficult to locate her ex-partner. Meanwhile, she meets two young women with whom she goes to a rave party and enjoys escaping for a while.
Eventually, she finds her ex-partner and they look back on their relationship. It lasted around two years.
Surprisingly, they both recognize in each other the fear they had of feeling too much. For this reason, he proposed an open relationship even though he didn’t really want one. It was fear that paralyzed him and, instead of saying what he felt, he proposed exactly the opposite.
The analysis of their relationship demonstrates that there are times when two people want to be together, but the fear of rejection doesn’t allow them to confess to the fact. It makes us wonder how many similar loves have remained in the shadows, stuck halfway between pride and fear.
The third ex-partner and a trip to Mexico City
Liliana’s last trip is the most revealing and intense. She reunites with her last ‘official and lasting’ partner. To do this, she has to face the harshest reality. He’s already made a new life for himself. He’s married with a son. However, he doesn’t seem to have moved on with his feelings. Their reunion is full of pain.
It was his desire to be a father and Liliana’s decision to have an abortion that marked the end of their relationship. But he still needs to overcome this fact. “Please, don’t look for me anymore,” he asks her, after a revealing encounter. Liliana finally understands, after talking to this man with which she had her deepest relationship, that love is for keeps.
That said, in a time full of volatile loves and half-hearted relationships, something that lasts forever seems increasingly strange. Having learned this lesson, Liliana returns home to her current partner.
Now, it’s time for her to face the question of her own current situation and start looking to the future. Therefore, she asks her partner, “What went wrong?”
Maybe, in another of her movies, we’ll learn if they fought or loved and stayed together.
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