In his sixth feature-length film Niña Errante (Wandering Girl), Boyacá born director Rubén Mendoza attempts to understand and portray womanhood through the eyes of four sisters from different mothers who reunite after their father’s death.
After the youngest – Ángela (played by Loren Paz Jara) – is orphaned, her three older sisters, Carolina (Carolina Ramírez), Gabriela (María Camila Mejía) and Paula (Lina Marcela Sánchez), decide that the best course of action is to deliver her to an aunt who lives on the other side of the country. And so they begin a long journey by land, during which Ángela will become aware of what it means to be a woman in Colombia.
Niña Errante joins an interesting trend of sisterhood-themed movies that includes titles such as Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang (2015) and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Our Little Sister (2015).
These last two films explore ideas of sisterhood in different cultures and offer a timely antidote to a very masculine Western filmmaking tradition.
Unfortunately, and even though the film’s approach is interesting at times, Niña Errante falls into the trap of exploring women’s dynamics through a male perspective. Mendoza has repeated the fact that many women participated in the making of this film, both in front of and behind the camera. But that doesn’t come through in the final product.
The girl’s awakening is reduced to a bodily experience while everything else about becoming a woman is blatantly ignored. There are some valuable aesthetic choices that allude to the psychological side of it, but don’t go any further than good intentions. There’s a lack of narrative development and some of this is a little too obvious.
Beyond its issues with representation, Niña Errante doesn’t offer any new revelations to the coming-of-age genre, nor does it add anything new to the road-movie genre. It ultimately becomes a film trapped between its aspirations and the limitations of its director.
Niña Errante opens in theatres on April 4.