Writing in Variety, Boyd Van Hoeij put it well when he described The Milk of Sorrow (La teta asustada) as an “ultra-arthouse item.” The heroine, Fausta, is an emotionally crippled young woman who, through breast milk, inherited fears based on the awful experiences of her mother during the government-supported atrocities of the early 1990s. One of the film’s supporters, Ed Gonzalez of The Village Voice, calls Fausta’s growth “an affront to the neocolonialist forces of imperialism that persist within—and are supported from outside of—Latin America.” I’m all for affronting the neocolonialist forces of imperialism, but I doubt that this film will do the trick. By my standards, The Milk of Sorrow just doesn’t deserve to be among the nominees. I can think of at least a dozen other entries that are more deserving. The percentage of viewers who find the film a satisfying experience is likely to be extremely low.
What makes the nomination of The Milk of Sorrow particularly bizarre is that three years ago Peru entered a much more interesting film, Madeinusa, by the same director (Claudia Llosa) and starring the same actress (Magaly Solier). I was struck by Madeinusa‘s unexpected twist ending that turns upside-down the popular, but lame, Hollywood theme of white men coming to save abused non-white women, and I recommended the film to friends and colleagues. However, it got no buzz and was completely overlooked by the Academy. Then along comes the inferior The Milk of Sorrow and it earns a nomination. Go figure.