FQ columnist Manuel Betancourt examines how the Latin American tradition of melodrama is being reimagined by contemporary filmmakers in ways that reveal its ongoing relevance. Focusing on four recent films—Los adioses (The Eternal Feminine, dir. Natalia Beristáin, 2017), Amores modernos (Modern Loves, dir. Matías Meyer, 2020), La quietud (The Quietude, dir. Pablo Trapero, 2018), and A vida invisível (Invisible Life, dir. Karim Aïnouz, 2019)—Betancourt suggests that these recent riffs on the genre present fertile ground for narratives about how women’s agency and bodies remain tethered to patriarchal systems. Indeed, melodrama’s status as a gendered genre and association with women and their stories is central to its recuperation and reformulation in the twenty-first century as a means to reckon with national discourses about the family that may feel personal but are inherently political.

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