How often do you come across a film that gives you the hope of enjoying a guilty pleasure-watch but ends up being the most frustrating two hours of your life? Culpa mia, loosely translated to My Fault, is a Spanish Prime Video original written and directed by Domingo González and adapted from Mercedes Ron’s novel of the same name. Culpa mia is all about a tale of forbidden love gone wrong in its entirety.
The movie begins with Noah and her mother, Rafaella, moving in with her newly rich husband, William Leister, uprooting the young 17-year-old’s life as she sulks over the idea of meeting new people. Though the stepfather turns out to be very accommodating, his oldest son Nicholas, aka Nick, is attracted to Noah, and the feeling is mutual for her as well. Their forbidden steamy encounters lead to many uncomfortable scenes, and the kids try to normalize their relationship throughout the narrative. Along with that, there is revenge infused into the plot, where one of the characters from their past makes an appearance, endangering Noah and her mother. How will they protect themselves this time?
The setup of the movie is predictable right off the bat, so it is easy to just assume what is going to happen from here on. The screenplay is wafer-thin because it is unable to carry two to three genres at a time, and that is why the storytelling and the narrative just fail. The movie begins as a forbidden teenage drama but soon maneuvers into an over-the-top soapy drama. At one point, it feels like a gangster genre film where there are car races and fights involved, and then it quickly slips into a revenge saga by the end. There is so much going on at a time that Culpa mia becomes infuriating.
As a viewer, I cannot stress enough the number of times the writer and director have tried to normalize whatever the step siblings were feeling for each other. The steamy scenes between Noah and Nick are to titillate the audience, and a way to make them stay in the movie even though everything around them is crashing. This is no Jaime or Cersei situation because Noah and Nick’s love story lacks depth. The tacky dialogue is reminiscent of bad erotica novels, which only makes the entire setup even more cringe. In just two hours of the movie, the writer and director introduce so many subplots that they forget to close them in their hurry to end the film.
This is just for the Hindi film audience; we get to see the leads of Culpa mia watching Sidharth Anand’s War, the climactic car chase sequence, to be precise, because Nick and Noah happen to be racing car enthusiasts. I’m not sure if this was added just to cater to the Indian audience, but it felt random.
The narrative was overwhelming, and after a while, there was no way to salvage the film because Domingo González relied on cliched plotlines, making the viewing experience purely boring. When you direct and deliver a soapy drama with layers of action and revenge in it, it would be ideal to add a surprise element to atleast make this a commercialized guilty pleasure film. The only indulgence here is the forbidden relationship.
This drama touches upon the abusive past of two characters, but the writing is weak, and it does let us understand the pain and the repercussions of it. The emotions just do not come out the way they are supposed to. A subplot about Nick and his younger sister Maggie being abandoned by their mother is also introduced, but that is also left wide open with no conclusion. I am assuming it was added to make the lead actor seem as deeply disturbed as the leading lady. This would be their way to bond with each other. But again, what bothers me as a woman and viewer is the onus being put on women who are mothers and the idea that their omnipotent sacrificial love is the only way to cure their child’s health problems, instead of doctors. How about Nick using his and his father’s money to help his sister with her health issues? But again, if we try to bring in logic here, we would be wasting our time.
The movie was badly directed, as Domingo did not have any control over the whole narrative. There was some chemistry between the leads, but it was more uneasy than the audience wanting more screen time for the couple. The two leads are shoddily written, for there are no arcs given to either of them. Noah’s character is borderline irritating for someone who has faced abuse from her father as much as her mother has. Being a 17-year-old girl, she cannot understand that her mother probably wants to be happy. Her drive to stay in this family is only because of her inappropriate attraction towards Nick. Indulging in a physical relationship with her stepbrother comes off as selfish, and the same can be said for Nick’s character. Culpa mia felt like a teenage version of the Netflix erotic thriller 365 Days, just with a pinch of taboo topics.
Culpa mia‘s climax was the most predictable thing I have watched on screen. It ends with the possibility of a sequel now that Noah and Nick’s parents are aware of their physical and emotional attachment. The performances of all the actors Culpa mia movie are abysmal. They happen to be good-looking people, but that is the only thing that keeps the audience hooked to the film till the end. Not one of them can bring out any emotion of any kind, which makes the film a plain waste of time.
Only if the makers had tried some way to save the film from crashing and burning, two hours was too long for a film that was filled with random, risqué encounters between the stepsiblings. The name “My Fault” could very well be turned into the maker’s fault for choosing to go ahead with this film. Culpa mia is a big no.