The Curse of La Llorona Shows Latinx Characters Are Still Not Leading Their Own Stories
Today, the Warner Bros. dropped the trailer for the upcoming film The Curse of La Llorona, starring Linda Cardellini, Patricia Velasquez, Sean Patrick Thomas, and Raymond Cruz. From the teaser trailer and the title itself, we can see the movie centers around one of Mexican folklore’s most interesting figures: La Llorona, the Weeping Woman.
For those unfamiliar with the legend, it tells the story of a beautiful poor woman who falls in love with a rich man who marries her, but embarrassed by her poverty, he slowly distances himself from her and their two children before eventually vanishing. One day, she sees a young beautiful woman next to her husband. In an angry and confused state, she throws her children into the river, drowning them.
Only after she sees their bodies does the woman realize what she has done and then she jumps into the river, hoping to die with her children. She is then cursed to wander between Heaven and Hell looking for her children in order to move on. Due to her endless crying, she becomes known as La Llorona. She is a boogeyman of sorts, used to frighten children who want to stay out too late.
As a result of her story’s popularity, it is often appropriated by supernatural writers as a Monster of the Week, and more often than not, the Mexican elements are reduced, the same thing that frequently happens with the wendigo of Algonquian folklore, among countless examples.
What’s very jarring about the trailer for The Curse of La Llorona is that, despite having a Latinx director [Editor’s note: correction the director is Portuguese-American] and a cast of Latinx actors, the lead is Linda Cardellini, and her family will be at the forefront of the story.
From the synopsis released: “Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker Anna Garcia (Linda Cardellini) and her own small kids are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. Their only hope in surviving La Llorona’s deadly wrath may be a disillusioned priest and the mysticism he practices to keep evil at bay, on the fringes where fear and faith collide.'”
As some Latinx critics have pointed out that, as this is a Mexican story, a Mexican actress and family should be the lens through which this narrative is explored. With Cardellini’s character having the last name Garcia, it may be implied that she has a Latinx husband, but again, that’s not really great representation, nor is calling what the priest does “mysticism.”
I’m tired of White Hollywood writing movies about our stories and our myths and our backgrounds, but they keep casting us as the maids and the gardeners and the slaves. They couldn’t even cast a Latina actress to take the lead role in the new film #LaLlorona.
— Latino Kid Problems (@LatinoKidProbs) October 18, 2018
— Baby Vause. (@coco_pinki_) October 18, 2018
I’m happy that @lalloronamovie is getting the movie treatment that she deserves, but I just wish that the movie was given the full Mexican treatment the way Coco got- all Hispanic cast with Spanish speakers with English dub/sub. #LaLlorona
— Anna Cano (@TheBatSmaug) October 18, 2018
— Antonella (@thaliaanto) October 18, 2018
So they’re making a #LaLlorona movie. All I gotta say is if I hear “Where are my kids” instead of “Donde estan mis hijos” I’m finna be mad. Hopefully it sticks to its root that’s a Mexican Legend. I better see an All Mexican cast too. No whitewashing!
— Mo’Fuckin Nono (@j_pereyda) October 17, 2018
— Kimy🍂👻 (@Nancy_Kimy) October 18, 2018
#LaLlorona is THE legend of my culture. I was scared of it for decades. The La Llorona song they play at the end of the trailer is iconic and known through out Mexico/Mexican American communities. BUT we need a social worker to tell this story? not the latin family?????? okay.
— 💀 basic bruja 💀 🔜 #TwitchCon2018 (@OhMyMithrandir) October 18, 2018
With Latinx representation being what it is in general, and rampant xenophobia directed towards Mexican people, this would have been an excellent opportunity to do something to represent Mexican culture. I’m of course happy to see my iconic Venezuelan queen Patricia Carola Velásquez Semprún in a film again, but why is she here playing the implied negligent mother?
Why pick Linda Cardellini and not Salma Hayek or Ana de la Reguera? It’s not enough to just surround a white lead with people of color and say, “This is representation.” Plus, the movie doesn’t even take place in Mexico, but in 1970s Los Angeles.
Even if this movie is good and scary and all of that, this is still a missed opportunity to tell some really interesting stories. If Coco could manage to tell a Mexican story with Latinx actors and no subtitles, why not The Curse of La Llorona?
(image: Warner Bros. Pictures)
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