Love as repetition compulsion: That’s the force behind You’re Killing Me Susana’s erratic narrative pulse. Had the Mexican director Roberto Sneider strayed into surrealism, he might have been accused of imitating Luis Buñuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire. Instead, he opts for the realism of a romantic comedy, much like the ones Sandra Bullock used to make before she won her Academy Award. Susana (Verónica Echegui) is a young writer who shares an urban flat with her husband Eligio (Gael García Bernal).
He’s an actor by day and a party boy at night, with a sweet girlfriend on the side. When Susana suddenly vanishes, her reasons for doing so seem obvious to everyone but Eligio. His self-centered haze blinds him to the fact that he’s taken her for granted. After some internet sleuthing, he figures out that Susana has decamped to a creative writing school in the United States.
The story, already fast-paced, picks up even more speed as it turns into an extended road movie. The wintry, Midwestern college setting is an ideal place to showcase American hostility to outsiders, and García Bernal parries that barely disguised scorn with his irresistible charisma: Eligio is an unrepentant rake who can charm the pants off of anyone. It’s completely understandable why Susana would leave him, and why she would want to return.
You’re Killing Me Susana (Me Estás Matando Susana)
The film is not rated. Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.