Women is Losers, directed and written by Lissette Feliciano, is an immensely emotional story that doesn’t pull its punches. The film touches on topics of racism, sexism, abortion, and women’s rights throughout the story of a young, Latina mother. In the opening scene, she addresses the audience on the subject of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps when all you have left is your skin”, beginning the inherently American story that includes all the sexism and racism that unfortunately, and often, comes with the package if the protagonist isn’t a rich, white, man.
In the late 60s, Celina Guerrera became pregnant alongside her best friend. They find a dentist willing to perform abortions, but Celina’s friend goes first, and the procedure is botched. After her best friend dies, Celina drops out of school and gives birth to her son. She lives with her mother and her mother’s husband, who raises rent and kicks Celina when she’s down at every opportunity.
This “underdog movie” contains a vital component to the story that many others don’t: How much it really, really, really sucks when someone has to claw their way to success. Celina doesn’t ride to her dreams after hitting a few roadblocks along the way. With everything that gets better, each step towards success, something else happens that shoves her backwards. On one hand, it’s “balance”, but on the other hand, it’s flat out unfair. And as a woman of color in the early 70s, there are already numerous roadblocks ahead of her that other men, and some women, don’t have to face.
Although, this is where Women is Loser takes its optimistic turn. There’s a balance of pain and loss, to reward and cautious optimism. Celina does eventually find success, and this success keeps the story from falling into tragedy territory. In the end, Celina is rewarded for her struggles and consistent pushes forward. The story subverts the expectation that everything can and will go wrong to the worst possible extent. With this, the dips, tumbles, and peaks of Celina’s story are emphasized, and that keeps the audience on their toes.
The unpredictability of what could go wrong and what could go well helps to elevate this story. Women is Losers takes the fear and unfortunate predictability of inherent biases in society, combined with Murphy’s Law, and then simultaneously shows how earth-shattering surprise victories can be. And that victories and blows can come from equally surprising places. A choice to bend the rules at Celina’s job is received as a likely horrible mistake, but has no consequences whatsoever, and in fact opens the door to a life changing opportunity. After Celina accepts help from a possible mentor figure, she’s faced with a major rejection when she did not meet the unfair and exploitative expectations that she was held to. A gift with brutal consequences and a rule broken by empathy lay the foundation from Celina’s success.
Told in the beautiful and colorful setting of San Francisco, Women is Losers takes a deeply emotional odyssey and multidimensional characters to tell a story that isn’t easily left behind. And a protagonist that is so easy to connect with and root for, that it almost physically hurts when she’s faced with a new hurdle.
This article was written by a guest contributor
Amanda started writing with video game reviews – every 12 year old boy’s dream! She has worked in TV development and children’s theater. She also writes and produces a podcast called Logdate. She finds a way to write about almost anything, and loves stories that inspire happiness and change.
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