‘I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me’
Stream it on Netflix.
Hard-core pornography, international drug mafias and a doctoral candidate’s literary explorations of critical gender theory: True to its title, this dark comedy, adapted from a novel by Juan Pablo Villalobos, involves such a bizarre mishmash of references and tones that it stretches plausibility — albeit to wonderfully entertaining ends.
The madness begins when Juan Pablo, a student in Mexico, is accepted into a Ph.D. program in Barcelona. After an unexpected call from his troublesome cousin, things take a shocking and bloody turn. Juan Pablo is still on the path to a Ph.D., but now at the mercy of a murderous gangster. He is made to follow a series of strange instructions — including changing thesis topics and attempting an affair with a lesbian classmate — whose rationale remains a mystery to our unfortunate hero (and to the viewers) until the very end.
A modern, noir-infused twist on Surrealist literature and cinema, “I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me” makes less sense as a narrative than as a string of expertly constructed moments with their own internal logic. Every self-contained scene or bit — be it Juan Pablo’s mother’s recurring voice messages, full of insults veiled as love, or the friendship his girlfriend develops with an Italian vagabond — is densely packed with references, gags and deadpan performances, keeping the film balanced on the razor’s edge of irony and pathos. It all adds up to a melancholy allegory about the unpredictability of life and writers’ futile ambitions to lend it order and meaning.
‘So Much Tenderness’
Stream it on the Criterion Channel.
Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.
Thank you for your patience while we verify access.
Already a subscriber? Log in.
Want all of The Times? Subscribe.