Sounds Like Love (2021) is an underrated Spanish film by the famous director Juana Macias Alba. It is based on the book Songs and Memories by Elisabet Benavent. Though the film distributed by Netflix is categorised as a rom-com it struggles best to de-tag itself mostly by its interior monologue narrative style and storyline.
The main plot of Sounds Like Love is nothing but the stereotypical line depicting the years-long struggle of the central character, 29 years old Maca to forget her ex-boyfriend Leo. Nevertheless, in this process, it places much on the plate, especially about homosocial bonds and self-love.
‘Sounds Like Love’ and therapeutics of homosocial bonds
The protagonist Maca is a fashion assistant who has lost all of her confidence and willpower owing to a bad breakup. It lets her give up her law studies and remain stagnant in her profession without any growth. This makes her put up with her oppressive boss Pipa. Adrian and Jimena her childhood besties realise this and talk her out of it many times.
Frequently throughout Sounds Like Love, they exhibit how they bond and mutually heal each other like when Maca is disturbed by the arrival of Leo back in Madrid. They take her out and help her by spending time with her. The effectiveness of this soul connection is realised when Maca takes revenge on Leo by creating a riot in his Literature class. Likewise, Maca and Adrian find every possible logical solution for Jimena to bid farewell to Santi, her long-dead boyfriend.
And when Adrian is afraid to take the very next step to her ultimate happiness and truth in life she too is emotionally supported and encouraged by them in realising and embracing her lesbian identity. Raquel social media influencer and friend of Maca is another example of an exemplary female bonding.
She helps Maca to rescue herself from the oppressive crutches of Pipa to find a fulfilling career though Raquel is dating Maca’s ex-boyfriend. These and the scene at the tattoo shop reveal how homosocial bonding can help to tame one’s inner demons and realise one’s deepest desires and wants.
Casting away male-centred romance
The narrative outrightly rejects the idea of stereotypical relationships which are mostly centred around one of the partners, especially males. Maca was in a fully bloomed relationship with Leo and after this she does not allow any men to take control of her, seen in her casual sexual relationship with Coque.
But, she continues to feel the same old love upon Leo’s arrival to the town after many years. At the same time, her reasoning ability does not allow her to continue the romance, as indicated by the crappy decision box appearing occasionally in Sounds Like Love.
The interior monologue technique used frequently connotes a similar process that may be experienced by anyone in her shoes. It appears as a warning to reject self-gaslighting and repeating the cycle of events. In the scene where Leo comes to apologise to her, she discusses the rain effect by filmmakers to reunite the lovers. However, she does fall for him again shocking the audience, yet embraces her career choices above her life with Leo. Therefore, she offers him a second opportunity to move with her to Paris which Leo cannot imagine because he loves himself more.
This shreds away her love and soon she flies to her dream. Similarly, for Jimena who fell for Santi in her young days, it’s really hard to bid him farewell after his untimely death. It urges her to look for Santi in every man that she meets and continue her long search. Jimena also uses black magic, believing that she could reincarnate him.
Ultimately, she casts away the spell of Santi herself when learning about the sincere attempts by her friends to rescue her using Jorge, a hired actor. Hence, she accepts the reality and goes back to her newfound love Samuel, realising that one cannot cross the same river twice. Raquel also does not complicate things between Leo and Maca, considering them as separate individuals and keeps up her dignity in the matter.
Recognition of discovered identity
It seems that, though at times we realise our true selves, we continue to disown them and accept only the ones that fall within the societal norms. It happens for Adrian as a wife married to the most wonderful person Julian as she mentions. But all her love for him does not lead to a satisfied life with him. Therefore, her tryst with several solutions ends up in her discovery of her lesbian identity. She finds happiness and much more that she missed all the while.
But Adrian only becomes more afraid to disclose this to any, even to her besties. Moreover, she becomes terribly scared of wanting to live alone, manage her finances and face society and her friends. These might have caused her to think of her fake married life and parenthood with Julian. But the timely intrusion by Maca and Jimena inspires her to take the bold step and live true to herself.
Self-love in ‘Sounds Like Love’
Self-love is a much-needed quality essential to lead a contented and comfortable life yet the unchecked rates of its development can lead to narcissism and hatred. Pipa, the social media influencer and boss to Maca is a specific example of this. Maca is not only paid poorly but also treated like trash. Even the years of working for Pipa do not help her to build a strong bond with Maca, though she is very sincere. Pipa’s callous attitude burns out Maca.
Pipa becomes a representative of the many social influencers around us who choose to live only in their social networks, faking her personality and life alike. She urges Maca to wear high heels to her parties which Maca is not fond of. It symbolises her fakeness to build on the image which she never had for herself.
Even in the flight scene when Pipa believes that she might die she chooses to post a video to her followers urging them to trend her. Thus, she becomes a direct symbol carrying the extremism of self-love and how it can impact one’s psyche.
All this while when Maca works with Pipa, she understands her own lack of confidence and self-love. But, also simultaneously understanding the formation of a narcissist out of this. Maca learns and understands herself, her lack and the need to change through her homosocial bonds. Therefore, her second non-acceptance with Leo does not even once shut her lids. She learns the need to take in only the ones that long to be hers. She straight away moves to build herself in the new land with no acquittance at all.
Here, she is that woman who is ready to tightly embrace herself and find happiness in herself rather than run away from challenges in her way. Thus, she boldly stitches a new nest in an alien land and proudly owns it all. She becomes the empowered woman with her female support system back in Madrid, even her distancing does not strain their friendship because Adrian and Jimena want only the best for her. The final scene where she enjoys dating herself in the Paris open space in red is that masterpiece in Sounds Like Love that potentially influences all.
Sounds Like Love is a must-watch for all women out there who find it hard to say no to their tangled love stories and those who have forgotten to love themselves before anybody else. This film helps us to re-learn our need for self-love to lead a happy and satisfied life because it builds us the idea of selfhood and goals to drive us on.