Currently streaming on Netflix, and based on a book by Ariana Godoy, is the Spanish romantic-drama, Through My Window (aka A través de mi Ventana). The movie – directed by Marçal Forés – stars Clara Galle and Julio Peña, and tells the story of two teenage neighbours, who fall in love despite significant problems in their courtship.
In the movie, Raquel is a high school student, who has developed a long-standing crush on the boy next door. Her crush is called Ares – a rich and rather arrogant young man, who comes from a wealthy family, and seems to do whatever he pleases.
One day, Ares hacks into Raquel’s Wi-Fi connection and after checking out her browser history he discovers her interest in him. He then plays upon this knowledge to tease Raquel about her feelings, leading to the pair spending time together.
Over the next couple of days Raquel and Ares get a little closer and engage in an on-off sexual relationship. They hook up, seem to enjoy each other’s’ company, and briefly share a connection.
But the closer they become, the more Ares pushes away, creating friction between the two. He treats Raquel as nothing more than a continual one-night stand, playing with her emotions in the process.
Eventually Raquel gets to the bottom of his behaviour, learning that his family have an influence over his actions. But can Ares change his way of thinking and become a better person, or will he continue down the same path and cause Raquel further heartache?
*Takes a deep breath*
*Takes another deep breath*
Through My Window is an odd movie, and one which is quite difficult to like. It is difficult to like because it has one very major flaw.
The flaw is that for more than half of the movie’s running time, the character of Ares is presented as a heartless arsehole, who treats Raquel like dirt. The film makes it very clear that Raquel is infatuated with Ares in a big way, and that she sees him as some kind of ‘god’, meaning that no matter what he does to her, she always brushes it off.
In simple terms, he spends a significant chunk of the movie acting like a toxic male, and she spends even longer accepting this. Instead of standing up for herself, kicking him to the curb and finding an alternative boyfriend who isn’t a complete dick, she goes along with it all, becoming his emotional punchbag.
Now, this is all part of the story, and some exposition around the one-hour mark gives an explanation for Ares’ attitude and his treatment of Raquel; but however way you cut the story, whatever excuses are made, this approach to his character is simply not good enough. Audiences are expected to watch a vulnerable young woman become the plaything for a guy AND to accept his appalling behaviour, simply because that’s what the story says.
What complete and utter tosh. Is this really the sort of story that has appeal?
I get that this film presents a love story, that is supposed to depict significant challenges to a relationship, but come on, there are better ways of presenting this type of story. There are alternative story beats to show macho or privileged behaviour on screen, and there really is no need to depict the lead female character as a complete doormat.
For almost the entire movie, the story doesn’t take into account the feelings of Raquel. Yes, she occasionally gets upset or is seen to express sadness about what Ares says or does, but that is all forgotten in the blink of an eye whenever the script decides it’s time to move on.
Her feelings mean nothing in this film. Scenes in which she is mildly annoyed or she is depicted as being emotionally down are included simply as tokenism and nothing more. It is all a box ticking exercise.
This is not acceptable. Not acceptable at all!
Raquel is the lead character in this movie. She is the person that takes the audience on a journey. She should be the driving force of the film, not a passive observer, who is submissive to the whims of the male co-lead.
This is terrible writing. Really terrible.
This whole approach to the relationship between Raquel and Ares is bad and gives out an awful message. It suggests that only the feelings of one person matters, and they can treat you like shit because you will forgive them if YOU love them enough!
I understand that part of this story is about changing Ares’ attitude and breaking free of his parent’s negative, destructive influence, but that doesn’t mean the film has to show him being a complete cockwomble for the vast majority of the picture. Nor does it mean that Raquel has to take it, without giving as good as she gets.
If the film wants to have Ares being a total arse, then fine, but have Raquel tell him where to go. Continually having her fawn over him is just madness and not a progressive way to tell a story.
I honestly can’t believe this is a tale being presented in 2022. This one-sided approach to a relationship is something I’d expect from a bad ‘80s movie, not from something brand new to Netflix.
The most frustrating thing about Through My Window is that if the story wasn’t so insistent on having Ares treat Raquel in such a bad way, and for such a significant amount of time, this could be an enjoyable film. Clara Galle and Julio Peña are great together, and prove to be likeable leads; the film is shot well, boasting good cinematography; and this movie becomes far more enjoyable when Ares’ attitude softens and he is repositioned as a more relatable person.
Admittedly, this is when the film starts to tread a bit of well-worn ground, with the story falling into the usual trappings of a romantic drama, but watching two people fall in love after being nice to each other is far more appealing than being expected to swallow the unacceptable nonsense that comes before. Love should be built on respect, not on terrible character flaws.
The film also benefits from a certain sexual liberation, not usually seen in movies of this nature. Romantic dramas that focus on young adults tend to be light, fluffy things, with heavy petting at best; but Through My Window embraces nudity.
I’m not saying that I need sex and nudity in my romantic dramas; I’m quite happy with a PG approach to bonking thanks, but the decision to go down this route does give the film an unexpected edge. By taking a more ‘adult’ path, the film distances itself from its peers, and makes it clear it isn’t afraid to show two consenting adults exploring their relationship in a way they seem to both enjoy.
To be clear: It’s not the sex that I found enjoyable (honest); it is the freedom that comes with it. Oddly, when Raquel and Ares are ‘doing it’, this is the only time the characters appear to be on equal footing.
But I have to say, for those who do have a problem with nudity or who have youngsters in the house, this film may catch you off guard so be warned. Parts of the movie are presented as being a little lighter in tone, and Netflix has tagged Through My Window as a ‘teen film’ almost giving the impression this is something suitable for the tween crowd, but it is not.
Through My Window is rated as a ‘15’. It has this rating because it contains bums and boobs, so keep this in mind if you have this film lined up for a family viewing. Although, why you would want your kids to watch a movie about a subservient, one-note character, who is treated like an afterthought by the man she loves (as well as by the movie’s writers), is completely beyond me.
Through My Window is a problematic movie. It takes a massive misstep at the beginning of the film and no amount of last-minute course correcting can change this.
The problem lies in the writing of the characters, with the unforgivable handling of Raquel in particular. Presenting Raquel in such a poor light and expecting audiences to simply swallow it is baffling to say the least, and leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
The script is fundamentally flawed and this should have been corrected before even a frame of film was shot. Despite a few positive elements, this film is a narrative mess.
Do I recommend Through My Window? No, I do not.