When Eva (María León) undergoes chemotherapy for breast cancer, she is encouraged by a fellow patient (Victoria Abril) to make a list of things she wants to do, and to go and cross them off while waiting for the results of her treatment. Along with Eva’s friend (Silvia Alonso), the three set off on a road trip to attempt to enrich all their lives and address the regrets that they have on the list.
Wishlist is a feel good comedy about cancer, which at first glance seems to be at odds with the subject matter. However, the film handles its tone in an even handed fashion, never letting it be too dark to distract from the comedy, nor to be so light-hearted as to seem disrespectful to the topic. Instead it approaches it as a “carpe diem” moment in the face of uncertainty and allows the three leads to seize that opportunity. They certainly do, carrying the film on their backs, with the help of a pithy script, that keeps things moving along in an amusing manner.
Wishlist is certainly smart enough to skewer the more melancholic Hollywood takes to the subject matter, casting Maria Leon as the friend with breast cancer. She approaches the role as worn-out by chemotherapy, but able to experience life in a more fearless manner as she tries to address some of her regrets.
Silvia Alonso’s Mar is unaffected by cancer, but is in disarray after the end of a long term relationship. Mar provides much of the comic relief of the film, acting as a relief valve, as well as being a foil to call out many of the clichés of the genre (thus helping the film to avoid a few of those).
The final part of this trinity is Carmen (the iconic Victoria Abril of Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!), who despite being the wise cancer veteran, sets Eva on the course of the life altering road trip. She grounds the movie, both in terms of plot, and in terms of experience. The scene where she dismantles one overly persistent would be lothario is a thing of beauty, and a nice tribute to all the partners that have supported those with cancer.
This is a gentle film that doesn’t redefine the genre, but approaches it in a playful and joyous manner. The result is smart enough not to be overly saccharine, while still maintaining a mass market appeal. Popcorn entertainment? Certainly, but with just the right amount of heart, and a little sense of mischief.
Wishlist is showing as part of the Moro Spanish Film Festival. Check Palace Raine Square, Luna Leederville, and Luna On SX for films and session times or for more info head to www.spanishfilmfestival.com