Summer in Spain: Family hijinks in ‘Yucatán’
Last week was my final week studying abroad in Santiago de Compostela, and I really tried my best not to think about it. So, obviously, I decided to watch a movie. 2018’s “Yucatán” offered the comedic relief anyone needs with its cast of Spaniards traveling around South America on a cruise ship. Surprisingly, this was the first time I’d watched a Spanish film here with English subtitles. I definitely missed my movie-viewing vocabulary lesson, but it was also nice not having to pause the movie every five minutes to look up a word.
But, never fear: “Yucatán” was still a cultural lesson and a fun movie to watch. It follows a surprising number of con artists on a cruise ship as they set their sights on Antonio (Joan Pera, “Vilafranca”), an innocent old man, who also happens to have 160 million euros from winning the lottery. While at times it preached the message that “money is the root of all evil” a little too much, “Yucatán” still takes the seemingly endless set of the open sea and whittles it down to a few nutty families just trying to vacation on a cruise ship.
On the surface, “Yucatán” seems like any other comedy with a large cast — con-men Lucas (Luis Tosar, “Gun City”) and Clayderman (Rodrigo de la Serna, “Inseparables”) have a long feud that hits its breaking point on the ship while their mutual love interest, Veronica (Stephanie Cayo, “Club de Cuervos”), is just over the whole thing and would like to move on with her life. At the same time, Antonio invited his family to join him on the cruise and, as a result, the narrative is able to grow from the complex dynamics that can only come from a family with three sisters or disliking an in-law.
In the background of all of this though, Antonio is still the target of a variety of con artists throughout the ship, including Lucas, Clayderman and Veronica. It’s kind of sad, really — all Antonio wants to do is have a good time with his family, and yet he finds himself being wooed by fake love interests and his daughter married off to someone who’s only in it for his money.
The thing that makes conning Antonio different, however, is the fact that he is a sweet old man who just happened to win the lottery. In all their other schemes, these con artists targeted rich people with a chip on their shoulder, but the situation with Antonio offers insights into the character behind the con artist. Veronica decides the life of crime isn’t for her while Antonio eventually helps Clayderman and Lucas end their fight.
The “romantic” part of this romantic comedy, on the other hand, was severely lacking. Veronica, Clayderman and Lucas were part of a love triangle while Antonio met who he thought was the love of his life on the cruise ship. What’s more, Antonio’s daughter got married to a con artist who was also gay. Antonio’s relationship was adorable, but also incredibly sad as he found out that he had fallen in love with someone who only wanted his money. The love triangle was a classic dramatic move, but it’s the marriage that the movie didn’t execute well.
In this relationship, Brendon (Adrian Nuñez, “30 Days With my Brother”) is assigned to pretend to be a straight man in love with Antonio’s daughter, Leticia (Alicia Fernández, “León”). Depicting Brendon originally as the stereotypical flighty and flamboyant gay man and conforming to a very narrow vision of sexuality gave “Yucatán” a bit of a sour aftertaste in what was overall a fun film.
I think my favorite part of this movie, however, will always be that it was the last one I watched with my host family. Forget all of the cinematic elements, and just think about a family getting together, ordering some pizza and putting out snacks to sit down and watch a movie on a Sunday night. These movie and dinner nights were one of my favorite parts of living with a host family and similar to how Antonio ultimately returns to “Yucatán,” I can’t wait to go back to Santiago de Compostela.