By her looks, Seconda seems old enough to be on her own. Her face gives away her age. But, her swift movements tell otherwise. With a bluish tinted jumpsuit, she jumps and swirls as if she’s a kid needed to be tamed. She kicks and punches in the air as if she’s in a dire need to of some kind of rigger to express her age. But there’s hardly any affecting cause around her. In fact, her parents hover around if she needs something. In the rooms filled with hardly any light, it doesn’t take much time to figure out that this woman has agoraphobia. ‘Love Me Tender‘ accentuates this feeling, in a good way.
Fear of wide or populated spaces in the early thirties isn’t an ideal situation in any way. For the same reason, Seconda seems to be constantly seeking some kind of approval or attention. A lady of her age would generally have a family of her own. So her struggle isn’t just with the mental condition that puts her in a shell with her caring parents. She’s rather trying to break out to have a genuine human connection, perhaps romantic, but gets pulled back in the whirlwind. She even tries to look out of her window, peaks at random couples and joyous children. But that isn’t particularly out of jealousy; she’s rather fighting with herself why she’s not able to walk in their shoes.
This internalized struggle is narrated gracefully by the Swiss-Peruvian director, Klaudia Reynicke who has also written its script. And she indeed has given Seconda’s character a grace, despite her conditions. Her reserved, shy personality and timid demeanor always seem to have a lot hidden beneath it. When the landlord comes knocking on her door and stumbles upon her beauty, there’s a hint of the joy of being praised by a male. A grown person of any gender would have physical needs, or to put it more bluntly, sexual desires. There’s always a layer under Seconda’s scared expressions that hints such charm, which is trying to unveil itself.
And the contradiction of her figure between her surroundings is highlighted with the colors from the production design and the deliberate usage of dim-lights. We observe her very closely, almost diminishing the existence of the other objects in her home. The orange-browns or the yellows that constantly build the composition with her bluish apparels make it precisely a world of her own. Her strangeness almost gives her an absurdity of a Roy Anderson’s deadpan characters. But there’s an uncertainty in her actions, which has a little more to do with Barbara Giordano’s eccentric performance. We know that she wants to break out of this cycle and be free and be on her own.
That’s why much of the choices being made seem organic here. Even the rhythm that she constantly seems to seek, while playing the same music loudly over and over, is her struggle to break this monotony. All we need for that is a little push. For her, it’s to find her rhythm and it doesn’t take long for her to dance to it as if it’s meant solely for her.