One of the nicer surprises of SXSW this year was discovering that the movie 'F*** My Life' ('Que Pena Tu Vida'), despite the title, was a downright sweet and practically adorable romantic comedy. Chilean writer/director Nicolas Lopez's previous film was a comic-book superhero film, 'Santos,' and this is quite different in story but with the same light touch.
Javier (Ariel Levy) is a young advertising professional whose best friend since childhood is Angela. They text each other almost continually, asking for advice and support ... or in Angela's case, cracking wise. Javier falls for Sofia (Lucy Cominetti), a lovely singer, and while the beginning of their relationship is a bit rocky, they have two years of bliss until he feels stifled and breaks up. He regrets this almost immediately, so most of the story is about his attempts to win her back, to mourn, or to get over the breakup. The title of 'F*** My Life' reflects the way he feels throughout most of the film.
It's not difficult to understand why Sofia won't relent: Javier is the Chilean cousin of the immature man-child who is becoming a staple of American comedies these days. He's more in love with love than interested in Sofia personally. Fortunately, Levy makes the character so charming that you can understand why so many minor characters are eager to dance with him ... or jump into bed.
The supporting characters are all whimsically odd, as you'd expect in a romantic comedy. His embarrassingly permissive mother Patricia heads the list, but the policeman who approaches Javier and Sofia in the car, the bartender at Javier's favorite local joint, and the gentleman who steals Javier's belt also add to the fun.
'F*** My Life' is set in Santiago, Chile, and the story is interspersed with interviews with the principal characters, reminiscent somewhat of 'Annie Hall' (or 'When Harry Met Sally,' depending on your favorite romantic comedy). This allows the movie to skip around in time for the first third, although it eventually settles into a traditional narrative structure.
The social media aspects of 'F*** My Life' and the narrative jumps in the first part of the movie, much like '(500) Days of Summer,' add a little freshness to the genre. 'F*** My Life' is a reminder that straightforward romantic comedies can hit all their expected marks but still feel entertaining.