Gay Essential Review: Second Star On The Right (Segunda Estrella A La Derecha) at Outfest

Emilia (Silvia Varón) is a fun-loving, free-spirited experimental actress, with the ideal non-committal lifestyle to go with her non-committal personality; she gets invited to cool parties with drama students, has drunken sex with her sort-of girlfriend Mariana (Diana Wiswell), and has a laugh with a trusted group of pals in her spare time. The only problem? Emilia is 35, and while everyone else has grown up and found stability, she’s been stuck in the same rut for the past two decades. Second Star on the Right (Segunda estrella a la derecha), which screens at Outfest Los Angeles, explores Emilia’s reluctance to let go of her arguably childish ways, and gently mulls over the true meaning of maturity.

Second Star on the Right

Before she can begin to change, Emilia must recognise the issue at hand, and determine whether her wild child ways are even a problem for her in the first place. Within her friendship group, she is the sole ‘disappointment’. Whether through careers, children or relationships, each of her three close friends – Angélica (Alejandra Lara), Clara (Tatiana Renteria) and Renata (Ximena Rodriguez) have found a way to fit into conventional society, leaving Emilia as the glaring exception. Broke, childless and with no stable relationship to be found, she is often isolated when conversation turns to the everyday – a familiar feeling for many, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community. As a bisexual woman, Emilia accurately represents the queer individual ostracised from the heteronormative mainstream, and though the film does not rest on this idea, these messages are certainly conveyed. Angélica (incredible job, perfect fiance, utterly intolerable personality) comments frequently to Emilia that bisexuality does not exist, and though the others occasionally jump to her defence, it appears that our protagonist has very little support sexuality-wise within this environment.

Despite the greatest efforts of her friends, Emilia will not give up on her dreams of succeeding in acting – that is, until Mariana finally kicks her out due to her reckless behaviour. After getting drunk at a party with the very students she is supposed to be responsible for, Emilia then loses her job teaching at the local school, causing her lifestyle to rapidly crumble. With no girlfriend and no income, Emilia is forced to take up a job at Angélica’s workplace, fetching coffee for boring people in suits and transforming her days into the very antithesis of the life that she once had.

Emilia’s fall from grace (or, perhaps, fall into normality) hits hard. As a character, she is effortlessly likeable, an artist caught up in the throes of irresponsibility, never needing to answer to society’s strict regimes. Her failures are almost excusable – because who hasn’t made a mistake whilst drunk, and who wouldn’t want to chase their dreams no matter what? Life isn’t a fairytale, however, and when the emotional pain caused by Emilia’s recklessness emerges, those small mistakes snowball into a greater failure of responsibility to those around her. Second Star on the Right (Segunda estrella a la derecha) avoids judging those who find it difficult to grow up, instead allowing Emilia find her own way to a happy compromise – a fitting denouement for a character torn between a life that once was, and a life that is to come.

3.5 Stars

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Megan Christopher

Megan Christopher

Megan Christopher is a freelance film and television journalist based in Manchester, UK. Her particular filmic interest lies in portrayals of lesbians, the working classes and personality disorders. She is co-founder of Much Ado About Cinema and has written for outlets such as Little White Lies, Sight & Sound and Girls on Tops.
Megan Christopher
- 4 hours ago