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Perfume De Violetas Review

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Mexican teenager Yessica is bullied by her father-in-law's son and has been expelled from her school. But things only get worse when she is raped, and she seeks solace by turning to her new friend, the shy Miriam.

★★★★★

Based on real events, this tale of Mexican poverty refuses to lapse into sensation or melodrama. That said, Maryse Sistach never quite exposes us to the true horror of the urban decay that prompts a teenager to sell his stepsister to a bus driver for sex.

Resentful of her mother's remarriage, Ximena Ayala is a ticking timebomb. But the hope promised by her relationship with Nancy Gutiurrez is undermined both by her rape and the disapproval of her friend's mother, whose hostility ultimately leads to tragedy. Ayala conveys the wounded bewilderment of a teen who's survived loveless domestic deprivation well, but is floored by the prospect of rejection by a soulmate whom she thoughtlessly hurts with her shoplifting and casual flirting. Unfortunately, some of the performances around her are more formulaic.

A brutally mature central performance elevates this Mexican drama, but ultimately it's not quite hard-hitting enough.