Starring: Maribel Verdú, Diego Martín, Rafael Spregelburd
Director: Santiago Segura
Running Time: 87 mins
Empowered (Sin rodeos) is a Spanish film about a stressed-out woman who, after visiting an guru, loses all control over what she says, unleashing all her stresses and speaking everything that comes to her mind.
Although it’s nothing particularly original or special, I had quite a lot of fun with Empowered. Thanks to a hugely entertaining central performance from Maribel Verdú, as well as a rapid and energetic pace throughout, the film is a thoroughly enjoyable watch from beginning to end, even if it doesn’t quite manage to surprise in any way.
Let’s start with that lead performance, because that’s where the film’s best energy and humour comes from. You’ve seen the story of a stressed-out character eventually losing all their inhibitions and going crazy, but I was impressed with how Maribel Verdú managed to bring a little more authenticity to a fairly generic character, portraying both a calm and shy side that makes her likable at first, as well as a fiery and outspoken side that comes to the fore once she finds herself unable to control what she says.
In that, there’s a little more character intrigue than I expected at first here, but Verdú also has excellent energy on screen that makes her just as funny to watch as well, bursting into life particularly as the second act gets underway, and we see her locking heads with others as she unleashes all her frustrations on the people around her, something that could have seemed overly aggressive had the first act not brilliantly established her as a thoroughly likable person.
Away from the lead performance, director Santiago Segura also does a great job here to give what is a fairly predictable and simple story a good energy and charisma throughout. Again, you won’t be stunned by the screenplay or any of the film’s twists, but thanks to Segura, the film moves at an excellent pace, building up stress and tension effectively in the first act, and then letting loose over the course of the rapid-fire second and third portions.
The comedy here is consistent and quick-witted enough to keep you thoroughly entertained, and it even has a couple of properly funny moments with some of the story’s side-characters that add even more fun to the whole affair, and with dialogue that moves at just as rapid and furious a pace as the rest of the movie, there’s never really a dull moment here, which I was absolutely delighted to see.
In all truth, the movie doesn’t win any points for its premise, because it takes it a fairly generic and predictable direction. All the work around that, however, in the directing, acting and some of the writing, is excellent, and with the exception of a first act that goes on a little too long, and gets a little too stressful, Empowered proves a thoroughly enjoyable watch in all regards, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5 overall.