Lucy, also known as Lulu, a 22-year-old young woman experiences a rite of passage in the film Delusions of Grandeur by writer/director Iris Almaraz and writer/guest director Gustavo Ramos. Set in San Francisco Bay Area (English and some Spanish with English subtitles) the film centers around Lulu (Leana Chavez) who at around 10 years old moved in with Dad (Louie Olivos Jr.), step-mother Angie and two step-brothers. She is obsessed with finding her mother in random women she meets even though she is undergoing counseling with Doctor (Jesse Wilde), the psychiatrist, who also proscribed her psychiatric medication to keep her from stalking women and toning down her outbursts of anger. Lulu works at Café Azucar as a barista in San Francisco but her growth develops when she moves out from her father’s suburban home into the city. She meets Rocio (Rina Fernandez) – a woman who resembles her mother – out in front of the café selling flowers for one dollar to women and for three dollars to men. Her comical yet emotional ripening unfolds after Lulu rents a room from Illusion (Salvador Benavides) a transsexual prostitute who claims she owns the bottom half of a San Francisco home and is saving to buy out the top half, as well. Illusion interviews Lulu as a renter, “Are you a metiche? Because, I like my privacy.” Their nosy personalities actually bring them closer. In sudden state of independence, Lulu signs up for a chat line mailbox, dyes her hair red like her mother used to, and stops taking her psych meds. Her appearance softens with the help of Illusion so she even wears dresses and make-up, quite a change from the oversized men’s clothes she wears in the opening scene. Flashbacks of the neglect and abuse she experienced from her mother spice up the film, triggered by conversation and moments Lulu spends alone. She meets Guy (Dave Vescio) on chat line. On their first date, he explains that he is drawn to her full lips and to her body type saying, “Bones are for dogs. Meat is for men.” Her virginity changes to being oversexed. Her relationships with Illusion, Rocio, and Mario (Ronnie Alvarez) the cafés manager, intertwine with insight to the love and heartbreak they all encounter. The film picks up steam when Lulu invites Rocio to Illusion’s home and the three women bond while high on marijuana. Illusion overcomes a recent broken heart over a gay man and Rocio embraces that her husband is cross-dresser. A side from selling love, Illusion grows and sells hallucinogens, which Lulu stumbles across while snooping through the house. Mario shows up on Lulu’s doorstep one evening, after she is temporarily suspended from work for lashing out at some racist customers. She invites him inside and they drink mimosas – an alcoholic cocktail made of champagne and orange juice – and they consume hallucinogenic mushrooms making for quite a colorful, yet hilarious bonding moment between the two characters. Viewers seeking to gain insight to the possible San Francisco life experience of a young women coming of age in her early twenties, the delusion of finding her mother, and the making friendships and love encounters, through laughter, tears, and shock value this is a film a must see at Cinequest Twenty-Two running February 28 to March 11, 2012. Trailer for Delusions of Grandeur provided courtesy of Cinequest.
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