ShotSequence, frame-by-frame cinema

Ivan Joatzay

50 (or Two Blue Whales Meet on the Beach): a visualization of the emotional rupture

With his debut feature in the cinematographic world, Jorge Cuchí brings to the repertoire of Mexican films: ’50 (or Two Blue Whales Meet on the Beach)’, a story inspired by the reality of a Mexico in 2017, where young people from all over the country went viral for fulfilling “The Blue Whale Challenge”, to talk about depression and the predisposition to suicide as a transcendent and empathetic issue to pay attention to and understand even today.

’50 (or Two Blue Whales Meet on the Beach)’ tells the story of Félix (José Antonio Toledano) and Elisa (Karla Coronado), two 17-year-olds who have lost their meaning and interest in life and, interfering in the well-known challenge of Russian descent, they accept to fulfill 50 challenges for 50 days with the essential destiny of taking their own lives in the last challenge. Along the way, the young couple meet, fall in love and explore the emotions of a suicidal path through their own worlds.

What is The Blue Whale Challenge?

To talk about this history and its significance today, it is important to know or remember the reality that inspired Cuchí’s work. Since 2016, a challenge created by the ‘F57’ group, a Russian virtual group that created a dynamic where a group of administrators began to grant daily challenges (raising the level of intensity consecutively) to game participants, began to go viral all over the world. in order to challenge them to attempt against their lives in search of exploiting the emotions of adrenaline and, in its wake, “clean society” of “useless” people with suicide, as its creator defined it in his time.

The game, although it was created in 2013, went viral in 2016 throughout Western countries and arrived in Mexico in 2017 as a social media trend that encouraged suicide in young people. The idea for Cuchí’s film arose in that heyday, when the young filmmaker learned about the risk cases of the Russian game through the media and, from there, decided to explore the emotional and critical background that being a whale entails. blue.

Two reconnaissance whales

With a script completely structured through empathy towards the emotional state that people with suicidal intent go through, “50, or Two Blue Whales” tells a story that seeks to measure the weight of depression, low self-esteem and lack of affection as a tangible reality that people can face on a daily basis. The film, written and directed by Cuchí, is a portrait taken from the reality that was lived in Mexico, from fiction, to find a better perspective on our social world today.

With three-dimensional characters, but not fully explored, the whale film presents Elisa and Felix as the two mysterious guides who introduce the viewer into a realistic sense of depression and loss that, as the story progresses, explores many more layers of the young people facing loneliness, family violence, social rejection and inexperience in life.

The story, already awarded at the Morelia International Film Festival (FICM) in 2019, stands out for being a complete film that draws on the psychosis of its characters and the social context they structure: two average Mexican families that have gone through moments of loss, shortcomings or strong disagreements that have reluctantly affected the emotional state of the two young people.

Achieving an emotional success with its theme, Cuchí’s story becomes the reflection that it is not only because of its history, but also because of the performance of its protagonists: Karla Coronado and José Antonio Toledano, two young people who manifest the acting commitment to interfere not only in the mental status that leads to suicide, but also in the physiological characterization of meeting the challenges seen on screen in a 100 percent authentic way and that, little by little, help to explore a remarkable emotional complexity in two characters who, being honest, they turn out to be completely human and emotional with the viewer despite going through a context of violence.

With raw and tangible images of harming oneself through cuts in the skin, living the adrenaline rush at great heights or attempting against the lives of others with the use of weapons, “50, or two whales” presents Félix and Elisa as two emotional and complex young people who gradually escalate their feelings of loss or sadness and that we do not necessarily fully understand (or know). Two young people broken and marked by the disappointments they have experienced in their lives, but who, at the same time, and as ideal as it sounds, do meet at the exact moment to get lost together.

Speaking of deep psychological themes, the film comes as a grounded and well-structured surprise that doesn’t limit itself to anything it has to say. With an aggressive and serious discourse on the emotions that young people in depression can go through, the journey of the two whales speaks of low psychological places without being complacent or making its own judgment, but rather, through its script, seeks to portray the situation and emotions of Elisa and Félix to open an opportunity for discussion about the mental status prior to suicide among the public.

With a dynamic narrative, the young people’s story plays with elements that constantly propose new things and raw emotions that make you more interested in this emotional journey, however, in an attempt to give equal weight to Félix and Elisa, the direction of Cuchí plays with unorthodox elements to show the lives of both young people in the same time and screen and, although it shows an interesting narrative, it can be disruptive and diffuse for whoever is watching two stories on the screen at the same time.

The film by the Mexican director manages to be a resounding success with respect to the message that it structures through many visual, narrative and acting elements, but it is noteworthy that this becomes an immersive experience to that emotional sorrow alive throughout the story through your photograph. With an unstable, dark and cold image (and that sometimes is not very beautiful or aesthetically clear) it brings you closer to the emotions and tonality of the worlds of Elisa and Félix throughout their journey.

’50 (or Two Blue Whales Meet on the Beach)’ is an essential story to get closer to the feelings of those around you and learn a little more about the mental status faced by people with depression. The story is created through sensitivity and listening to the identity and emotional state of people with suicidal impulses, however, it is clear that it is not a film suitable for all audiences and requires both a mindset open to mental problems, such as a strong stomach to process all the images and events seen on the screen.

The story of the whales comes as an option for reflection, finding the symptoms, recognizing the need for help or exploring the methodology of approaching and supporting these sensations of fear and loss of purpose that we can occasionally find in people in our reality.

(Photo: catatonia)