Traditional love is an unattainable commodity for certain types of people. It’s a frustrating fact to grapple with, and an even tougher one to accept. Such is the journey of Daniel (Pablo Pineda), a recent grad student who on his first day of employment is bowled over – figuratively and almost literally – by bleach-blonde force of nature Laura (Lola Dueñas). Laura reacts toward Daniel with uncertainty and condescension, the way most outsiders do. Daniel has Down’s syndrome, and it doesn’t take long before the intoxicated smiles he sends her way from across the office cement a path to unrequited love.
A friendship blossoms quickly, and Daniel only becomes more enamored. One might see Laura as leading him on, but Daniel reveals himself to be self-aware about his condition and societal status. “How are you like this?” she asks at one point, referring to his sharp intelligence. The fact that Daniel is better-educated and more self-assured than many of his peers does him no favors when trying to reign in that most untamable emotion of desire.
His reaction to these feelings are in stark contrast to those of a pair of friends who also have Down’s syndrome, whose lovesickness is so strong that they escape from under their parents’ stifling care to pursue it completely. Their’s is a coupling powered purely by heart, while Daniel’s feelings are contaminated by his head. In what is perhaps the film’s centerpiece scene, Daniel bitterly confronts his mother, his chief teacher for most of his life, for instilling in him the burden of being smart, for the self-awareness and rationality that keeps his confidence in check. He can’t keep his head in the clouds for too long before crashing down to earth.
Yo, también (“me too”) is a welcomely off-kilter coming-of-age story, unique in that the character coming of age is actually 34 years old. Writer-directors Antonio Naharro and Álvaro Pastor take a straightforward approach, but comfortably layer Daniel’s trajectory with emotional insight rather than scenes of exploitative digressions. It helps that they’ve cast the endlessly charismatic Pineda, who earns sympathy beyond the circumstances of his condition, and connects on universal terms, proving we all want the same things out of life. Dueñas, a fixture in Pedro Almodóvar’s recent repertoire of actors, is the perfect foil. Her Laura is exactly the kind of person Daniel would fall for; fiery and messy, buoyant and thunderously alive. Their time together may be fleeting, but its impact not only on Daniel, but on both of them, is undeniable and will remain for years to come.
Yo, también is currently available to rent on Vyer Films: http://www.vyerfilms.com/me-too/login.php