Directed by: #SalvadorEspinosa
As the summer warmth begins its annual transition into sweater weather, Netflix gives watchers one last heatwave with the release of You’ve Got This, the latest heartwarming Spanish language film from director Salvador Espinosa.
The romantic comedy—Ahí te Encargo in the original Spanish—follows young married couple Alejandro (Mauricio Ochmann), affectionately known as Alex, and Ceci (played by Esmeralda Pimentel) as they struggle with the decision of whether or not to have a baby at this stage in their lives. While Alex seems singularly driven by the need to become a father, Ceci is concerned that starting a family will risk the end of her meteoric professional rise. All of these points, however, become moot as Alex finds himself suddenly entrusted with caring for a several-month-old baby named Alan, this responsibility thrust onto him by what is essentially a stranger.
Hilarity and heartbreak ensue as Alejandro attempts to secretly care for this child, all the while hiding its existence from his “dictator” of a boss (referenced as Mussolini), and his loving albeit non-maternal wife—all-the-while leading Alex to realize that fatherhood wasn’t quite as easy as he had first imagined.
Overall, You’ve Got This is an enjoyable although mostly predictable entry into one of Netflix’s most shallow genre of originals: romantic comedies. However, while similar in substance, the level of craft on display throughout Espinosa’s film holds it a level above the likes of Falling Inn Love and Holiday in the Wild (two other Netflix original rom-coms), allowing for the film to at times transcend the boundaries of its confining genre, and act as a surprisingly deep commentary on the social norms of parenthood.
The opening scene of the movie perfectly captures the overall tone of Espinosa’s film, with a pavement-traversing long shot set to upbeat acoustic music, eventually floating up and through our lead characters’ window to find them asleep in bed. Peaceful, musical and vibrantly coloured, this first shot sets the cinematic mood for the piece, and begins to show us a refreshingly healthy view of Mexico that is created throughout the nearly two-hour runtime.
It is this view of Mexico which is by far the film’s strongest and most unique aspect. Far too often, mainstream cinema, (Hollywood especially), feels the need to depict Mexico as this crime-ridden, Cartel-run country, bathed in a dusty-yellow filter and set to the audio-backdrop of machine-gun-fire. While it is certainly true that drugs and organized crime dominate many regions of the country (as they arguably do for many cities in the United States), western films like the undeniably great Sicario often paint the entire country in broad and largely inaccurate strokes. Because of this, seeing Mexico City depicted as a lush, modern and cultured cityscape, instead of some criminal underbelly, lends this film an aspect of honesty and beauty it probably wouldn’t overwise have been afforded had this been set in the US or even the UK.
As a whole, You’ve Got This lacks the strength of character building needed to fully cash-in on most emotional beats (especially for side characters), choosing to further advance the plot in an interesting—albeit unsuccessful—reversal of romantic comedy norms. This being said, the overall limited character background is made up for by identity driven performances, and electric chemistry between all of the major leads, especially the comedic duo of Alejandro and co-worker Rafa (played by Juan Martín Jauregui).
At times, it seems the film fluctuates between both melodrama and realism; Operatic levels of drama occur in most comedic scenes, while character relationships are approached in a raw and natural style. While this fluctuation can at-times be jarring, overall, the film adeptly toes the line between reality and stylized drama without losing the desired effect of either.
One draw-back of the film is that the script—much like its main character—is obsessed with the subject of babies. Nearly every meeting, conversation and brief exchange feature mention of children, almost to the point of exhausting the film’s straight forward premise into something oppressive.
Nevertheless, You’ve Got This remains a fun, stylish and at times sexy rom-com which, despite its lack of character and script depth, isn’t afraid to balance its emotional highs with dark lows, and refreshingly offers a far more modern and accurate representation of Mexico in film.