Diego on My Mind
Written & Directed by: Alicia Herder
STARRING: Amanda Misquez, Jordan Torres, Lindsay Bushman, Lola Anthony
Diego on my Mind is a touching and contemplative drama by Writer/Director Alicia Herder. It follows Latin-American teenager Magdalena (Amanda Misquez) who is preparing to celebrate her Quinceañera – her fifteen birthday. In the midst of the preparations, her attention is caught by hunky stoner Diego (Jordan Torres), who she develops a crush on. As Magdalena navigates a series of disappointments – her father’s absence at her party and Diego’s eventual rejection, she is forced to face some of the disenchanting realities of growing up.
The film opens with Magdalena bouncing on her bed in a typically adolescent, brightly coloured, messy bedroom, suggesting a sense of childishness which she gradually moves away from as the narrative progresses.
The cinematography by Siru Wen is delightful - there is a sense of wonder and anticipation created when Magdalena’s party dress hangs, suspended in her kitchen, bathed in a bright spotlight, and the blue and purple tones of the final scene in which she asks Diego to kiss her are reminiscent of a fairy tale. Indeed, both the dress and the symbolic use of shoes seem to reference fairy tales – Magdalena tries on her mother’s high heels the first time Diego visits her house; and her father’s key contribution to her party are some special ‘Quinceañera shoes’ – which bring to mind Cinderella and the transformative magic of party shoes.
Such fairy tale elements serve to greater highlight the disappointment she feels at various moments – such as when her father doesn’t attend the Quinceañera ceremony; his empty seat always being in frame to emphasise his absence – and when Magdalena’s ‘Prince Charming’ tells her ‘I like you, but I don’t like you like that’, and she is left alone in the moonlight – reality falling short of her imagined fairy tale ending.
Diego on my Mind is an enjoyable and well-executed examination of the unfulfilled expectations and disappointments of adolescence and the transition into adulthood. It could perhaps afford to be fractionally shorter – at 17 minutes it might be a little on the long side for some festivals – but it is certainly enjoyable and deserves success on the festival circuit.
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