Explain literally a story written by Javis is an exercise inevitably limited. ‘The call’ was something more than the story of two teenage girls, Mary and Susan, who fall in love with God and a nun, respectively; ‘Paquita Rooms’ is more than the day-to-day a representative of actors aging; and ‘Poison’ is more than the biography of a transsexual woman famous. The duo of designers formed by Javier Ambrossi and Javier Calvo (creative must call them, because their vision goes beyond directing or writing, are storytellers multidisciplinary able to devise universes of their own) often take a premise as an impulse, and use it to explore areas not necessarily consecutive. To go into a history of the Javis is like going through a curtain of multi-coloured tinsel: there is nothing more magical, nothing more seedy, and nothing more unpredictable.
But let’s start from the premise, to get a boost at least. ‘Venom’ tells the story of Cristina Ortiz, the Poison, a transsexual woman who was discovered by the television while exercising prostitution. His outrageous charisma, his spectacular beauty and his personality is excessive, turned into an animal on television that strolled through the studios during the 90’s. After spending three years in prison for defrauding an insurance company, reappeared in the media with a visible physical and mental deterioration. He ended up dying in conditions that are mysterious to the 52-year-old, in November of 2016, ending up to become an icon of LGBT and trash. The series will count his life as seen from the prism of Valeria, a student of journalism tranny that will be proposed to write a book about the Poison. From that relationship will arise what Javis really want to tell you: the importance of the references to build our identity, and how the mass media fulfill this function.
It is an ambitious proposal with several overweight from take-off. Based on the biography ‘I Say! Neither whore nor saint’ of Valeria Vegas, who the team of writers, and in addition serves as the inspiration for one of the protagonists of the series, the Javis have to find a balance between honoring Cristina Ortiz, a real person with virtues and defects, and with a life full of dark episodes, without falling into the romanticization or the glorification. And that while they direct their most expensive production, a bet generous on the part of Atresmedia with which they aspire to reach out to the public mainstream, and give it a place in the crowded landscape of the streaming Atresplayer Premium, its new platform.
Technically, the first episode of ‘Poison’ is a giant step in the career of the Javis arising from that bill of look amateur that had their productions up to now. Taking advantage of that and have more resources than in their previous productions, Ambrossi and Calvo have been surrounded by talent contemporaryas the directors Mikel Rueda (‘hidden’) and Álex Rodrigo (‘The house of paper’), that is put behind the camera in some episodes, and writers such as Elena Martin (‘Júlia ist’, with she also told Leticia Dolera to direct part of his series on ‘perfect Life’), the cortometrajista Claudia Costafreda or Felix Tasty, with the Javis share a voice that is undeniably homosexual, and a debt huge with Pedro Almodóvar.
Already from the first scenes is note an evolution in the visual: the stylized photography of Grey Jordanian (‘life without Sara Amat’), color-overloaded, and strong lights, warns us that we are entering a world of fantasy. A label ensures that ‘Poison’ is part reality and part fiction, but throughout the episode we discover even in the realm of magical realism. The first time we see the Poison is almost a marian apparition, and his presence will be a mystery, a search for the rest of the chapter, as well as in a version trans and trash of Carmen Sandiego. Cristina Ortiz is not the protagonist, at least of this episode, but a puzzle that two people have to resolve in two points in time different. It is a great idea to start exploring a figure as complex as the Poison from the admiration and the unknown.
One of the two protagonists of the chapter is to Faela Sainz, the reporter who discovered the Venom, played by Lola Dueñas. Expert in interpreting women rather sad, and losing, the Masters is perfect for telling the story of a woman desperate to find something that stands out in the circus diary that was ‘tonight we crossed the Mississippi’. Through it, the Javis constructed another of the legs of ‘Poison’: the portrait of a television as entertaining as wildly amoral that came to Spain from the hand of the private channels and it has evolved up to this convergence of tabloids, reality and fiction that is practiced by Telecinco in programs like ‘Big Brother’ or ‘Save me’.
If the last episode of the second season of ‘Paquita Rooms’ was a great tribute Ambrossi and Calvo to the series noventeras, ‘Poison’ is presented as the great festival of the trash Englishwith references to Sonia Monroy and Mario Conde, and with actors playing real people of that time. Esther Expósito (‘Elite’) is Machús Osinaga, to whom The Country described in 1996 as a reporter more daring of the Mississippi, and the voice of Israel Elejalde is so bound to that of Pepe Navarro that sometimes it seems that the presenter has doubled.
It is clear that the Javis love this universe (the Ambrossi has made it clear that he would like to participate in a program such as ‘Survivors’), and that his vision of this television is fully exempt from judgment. In fact, the message that they end up stressing at the end of the episode is positive: the means of communication are used to show what is hidden, as the presence of the Poison shed light on transsexualism in Spain. If that light, deformadora and blinding, also brought with it new prejudices and discrimination or not, is a topic that perhaps should be explored in the following episodes.
Giving voice to transgender people
It is precisely this lack of judgment is a characteristic that pervades all the stories of Javis, probably the most valuable thing they have, as was demonstrated in the lesson of empathy that they gave with their treatment of Anna Allen in ‘Paquita Rooms’. His gaze always starts from the devotion and the love, and all of this is back in ‘Poison’. Love to a time in which we listened to Dover, the Cranberries and the cars were “tuneados” with neon lights. The love for that show visceral and utterly human that is called trashy gossip tv, with characters such as Paca la Piraña (that plays itself and is, by the way, hilarious). And the love of a few people groundbreaking, and who live on the margins, all of those transgender women who star in the best scenes of this episodethat look at the areas of prostitution that Almodóvar taught me far in ‘All about my mother’ and Javis have gotten up to the neck.
What makes ‘Poison’ on a bet is even more risky if it is a cast full of trans people who do not have a lot of experience rolling. In this first episode we see two of the three actresses who play the Poison (we lack Jedet, who will play the lead in the transition years of Joselito Cristina). Danielle Santiago is the great discovery for his credibility and his ability to embody that molotov cocktail of strength and fragility that was the Venom of the 90’s. Isabel Torres, the Poison post-prison, is a great choice for your animal presence, although store to the exaggeration. Who did convince, and so much, it is Lola Rodriguez playing the young Valeria Vegas: your story of self-discovery through the fascination that cause the transgender women is the most exciting part of the episode.
Although they are accused of enjoying a position of privilege, the Javis always used his fiction to give voice to the more disadvantaged: lesbian women in ‘The call’, the actresses without success in ‘Paquita Rooms’, and transgender people in ‘Poison’. As in the rest of his works, there remains a sensitivity a teenager, with all that this entails: deep, irreflexividad and also a bit pretentious and cheesy. But these gusts have just overshadowed by the emotion, the honesty and the courage with which permeate their stories. Effectively, the media can shed light on the darkness, to show what marginal, and make us reflect. That is what makes ‘Poison’.
The first episode of ‘Poison’ comes to Atresplayer Premium Sunday, march 29. Then will come a hiatus of several weeks caused by a coronavirus.