Lala (Inés Efron), the daughter of a judge, lives with her family in Buenos Aires. When she is 13 years old, a young outgoing Paraguayan girl by the name Guayi, comes to work in their house as a maid. It is love at first sight, with their relationship blooming as they grow up. When they reach early adulthood their dreams of living on the shores of the Paraguayan lake Ypoa are on the verge of becoming reality, but a series of dreadful events changes everything, as they cascade into their lives. Going from bad to worse, desperation reaches Lala’s heart, fuelling her determination to get them out.
Two years ago, director Lucia Puenzo had surprised us with the intimate special-girl-growing-up drama XXY and her theme here seems to set off in the same direction. But El Nino Pez (The Fish Child) takes us off on an unexpected tangent. Although it starts off as delving into the complexities of love across the social class barrier, very quickly you find out that that is not where you are being taken. As the story unfolds, we see more and more of the general awkward relationship between the locals and their guest workers, actually sinking into the depths of depravity.
El Nino Pez gives a bleak view of Argentinian society, as a nation collapsing under the weight of its impotence to protect its people. The corollary of such anarchistic society is that it brings out the worst in people – through the actions of some and the silence of others. You can take comfort in the power the love story, but their love also proves one other thing: that it is not enough for us all.