Domingo González’s 2023 Spanish romantic film Culpa Mia (My Fault) starring Nicole Wallace and Gabriel Guevara, is his first full-length film as a filmmaker. Culpa Mia an adaption of the Wattpad story is a creation that only serves the young generation’s allure towards forbidden romance and an aristocratic lifestyle.
Though Culpa Mia is a complete entertainer for the younger audience, it fails to possess a strong and distinct plot. The film is overridden with many plots that undermine the main storyline of the film.
Culpa Mia’s storyline revolves around the lives of Noah and Nicholas. Noah is a 17-year-old teenage girl that is portrayed as an obstinate, rebellious character with an inattentive disposition who is a voracious reader. The predictability of her character as a conventional damsel in distress with a traumatic past starts developing in the first scene as she is shown resentfully glancing over a photograph of her and her dad.
The second scene marks exemplary cinematography as it serves as Noah’s entry into a different world. A life of luxury that she dreams of forges to come into existence as Noah’s mother marries William Leister. Rafaella – Noah’s mother marries a rich man that starts to uproot Noah’s comfort and the privacy she needs to function.
Nicholas is shown as the typical conventional male lead who lives a life of exquisite riches and holds the reputation of being a delinquent with a soft heart. His life is nothing short of luxury, high-society parties, and drug and alcohol abuse. The meeting scene of both the leads marks a romantic scene that sparks mutual attraction between them and a forbidden romance between half-baked siblings.
Culpa Mia then revolves around the chemistry between the two that develops during the downtown race. The plot gets subdued as Noah’s traumatic past and her troublesome relationship are brought to light. The film ends with William Leister and Rafaella finding out about the forbidden romance of Nick and Noah and leaves it on a cliffhanger about the question of them ending up together.
The scene of Noah’s real sister and his warm relationship with her reveals their mother leaving their emotional needs unattended and is left incomplete in the entire film without any proper conclusion.
Culpa Mia essentially highlights the luxurious lifestyle of Nicholas that romanticises the use of drugs, alcohol, crude humour and nudity that marks the superficiality of the characters and the toxic pressure to adhere to societal norms of partying to be regarded as someone who is ‘cool.’
The scene where Noah and Nicholas are in the car and Nicholas argues with Noah before abandoning her on the stranded road shows the use of crude humour and highlights the impulsive behaviour of Nicholas. The scene shows the presence of emotional resistance in Nicholas while the mention of his mother leads to him abandoning Noah. The film tries to make the impulsive and reckless behaviour of the main character a desirable trait to possess that exemplifies the blind acceptance of patriarchy.
The scene that marks the quarrel between Noah and Nick right before his fight, where Nick disapproves of Noah’s idea of peace and says that fighting marks my strength is a clear example of how the film promotes the idea of patriarchy.
Culpa Mia has an abundance of scenes that mark the male characters in the film as being rooted in their toxic masculinist behaviour. The scene of Nicholas punching a guy and clutching Noah’s arm tightly marks the portrayal of the male lead overpowering the female and shows his dominance. The scene essentially glorifies the territorial behaviour of the male lead as possessiveness for his female counterpart. Toxic masculinity is often underlooked in many films which leads to mass acceptance of behaviours that are unethical and immoral.
The notion of true love healing every illness misleads the masses. The film revolves around Noah’s dad and her relationship being traumatic and how her father tries to kill her and blames her for his failure. Noah experiences hallucinations and has a phobia of darkness. The film upbears the idea of romanticisation of Noah’s mental health which sidetracks the plot of the film.
Culpa Mia could have been better if the storyline was focused on the current lives of Noah and Nicholas and not been subdued with multiple subplots.
The first scene of Noah and her mother in the car marks the presence of a dysfunctional family. The film highlights the struggles of not having a normal childhood and how childhood trauma can affect the normal functioning of an adult. Though the initial concept is strong, the film loses its essence as it pays more heed to exotic landscapes and exemplarity.
The idea of the male gaze and females being centred as objects to be ogled by males is present in many scenes. In the main scene where Noah dances on the car during the downtown race and is ogled by all men present there is a sheer example of a woman placed in centerfold for male attention.
The film majorly uses loud tones and exotic locations that felicitate the pomp and show involved. The alluring scenes of the car chase and the charming actors involved did sail the boat of the film. The noteworthy scene of Noah and Nicholas during their cars sliding in the harbour is one of the best scenes in the entire film.
The film is undeniably made for the younger generation that is charmed by the idea of forbidden romance and enticing characters. But it lacks a solid plot and uniqueness in its storytelling. The locations and the choice of actors for the main leads are outstanding but the predictability of the film and its conventional approach towards its plot development make it unappealing for catering to a mass audience.