The first solo feature from director Ethan Maniquis, Lemonade, is the cinematic equivalent of hysteria and absurdity in its own right, especially from the standpoint of independent cinema. In his comedy in Spanish, the characters take hallucinogenic drugs and lose their sense of reality. For a comedy driven by broad, physical humor and over-the-top situations, that premise is certainly apt. But there is such a thing as overdoing what is necessary, let alone justified.
Megan (Graciella Dietsch) and Phillip (Diego Vicos) are engaged couples staying at a vacation villa in the Dominican Republic. Moving into the villa, Megan tries to convince the villa owner that they are responsible guests, and Phillip gets wedding jitters. The couple awaits the arrival of their parents. Florence (Hony Estrella) is Megan’s high-spirited mother who has a lot of energy and opinions. Don (Tony Pascual) is Phillip’s pompous dad who makes sure everyone knows money isn’t an issue. Meanwhile, Megan welcomes housekeeper Mirta (Sandy Hernandez) and her boyfriend Oscar (Omar Augusto Luis) as guests. As the six face off in a bizarre and comedic fashion, they drink cups of lemonade accidentally spiked with mind-altering drugs.
“As the six face off in comical and bizarre fashion, they drink cups of lemonade that have been accidentally spiked with mind-altering drugs.
For a low-budget slapstick comedy with a hovering visual aesthetic, Lemonade is pleasantly extravagant. Granted, the visuals are rough around the edges and the over-the-top humor doesn’t always work. However, the cast is clearly having fun and their chemistry is on point. Graciella Dietsch and Diego Vicos are having some fun times as a couple about to get married. Megan’s overflowing optimism about her upcoming nuptials contrasts well with Phillip’s fear of commitment. There are times when he acts like a goofy jerk, making a bad first, second, and third impression on Megan’s mom as she playfully waves a kitchen knife in comical fashion. Vicos’ performance is light. But Hony Estrella is especially hilarious as Megan’s mother, maintaining her hot temper as she slaps and criticizes others without any filter.
The physical comedy is mainly effective thanks to the colorful performances. Meanwhile, where most high jinks transpire is a lavish modern villa that’s pleasing to the eye. It doesn’t take long for the drugs to kick in and the characters lose themselves in a dreamlike haze, where they experience a talking goat and swirling colors. It’s completely crazy and brazenly eccentric. But once the drug kicks in, the drug never really wears off, and the silliness lingers for the rest of the movie. The film is admirably outrageous in its slapstick approach. That said, it loses some staying power as some hallucinatory scenes, while deliberately exaggerated, are stretched beyond their initial impact.
With catchy performances, solid humor and a simple yet wacky vision, Lemonade is a micro-budget comedy sadly weighed down by too much absurdity. Nonetheless, the movie is aware of what it wants to accomplish as an independent comedy, and it delivers more than it delivers.