Santiago Caicedo, Powerpaola
Colombia, 2017, 96 min
Recommended ages 14+
Adapted from the graphic novel memoir by Colombian-Ecuadorian cartoonist Powerpaola, Virus Tropical is a thoughtful and deeply affecting coming-of-age story that begins on the night Paola is conceived – in a stylized but anatomically complete sequence that sets the tone for the film’s matter-of-fact exploration of sexuality and family – and ends with her striking out on her own as a young adult. Over the intervening years we accompany Paola, the youngest of three daughters raised by a mostly single mom, as she gropes and fumbles her way through friendships, new schools, clunky romances, and various domestic dramas. Scrappy DIY black and white animation and lo-fi Latin-indie score lend a lovingly idiosyncratic charm to a film that brings forth a unique and utterly refreshing girl’s POV perspective. By the end you have formed a gentle intimacy with this family and are happy to have spent time together.
Comment: Film contains frank depictions of nudity, sex, childbirth, and recreational drug use.