Run Time -75 Minutes
Certificate - U
Country - Mexico
Genre - Drama
Awards - Minor
Alamar (the Spanish verb 'of the sea') is a gentle drama played out in a visual documentary style from Mexican director Pedro González-Rubio, where actors effectively play themselves by recreating a time that may or may not have happened in their lives, in this case a young father and his five-year-old son bonding in the beautiful and secluded Banco Chinchurro Reef off the southern tip of Mexico in the Caribbean Sea, although the two not related in real life, just family friends but close all the same.
Shot on location on a single HD camera with just two filmmakers it is striking looking film and proof enough you don't need huge film crews to make interesting and beautiful work on film, its mandate to simply capture the early tender relationship between father and son in a natural and untouched wilderness. The idea of going back to nature to emphasize how roar and important that relationship is for mankind is a worthwhile exercise although that is basically all that happens here, very arty and so not for you if you don't like that type of film but the lap of the small waves on the pristine white beach from the pristine blue sea strangely hypnotic and relaxing an experience.
Jorge Machado ... Jorge
Roberta Palombini ... Roberta
Natan Machado Palombini ... Natan
Nestór Marín ... Matraca
Garza Silvestre ... Blanquita
Dreadlocked twenty something native Mexican guy Jorge (Jorge Machado) is in Rome to pick up his little son Natan (Machado Palombini) from his ex partner Roberta (Roberta Palombini), an Italian city girl who met Jorge on vacation in Mexico to produce little Natan. Five years on and Roberta has agreed an amicably split from their holiday romance and for Jorge to take the kid for the summer to experience how dad was bought up in a tiny and remote archipelago off the Caribbean coast of Mexico, where the two are soon heading out to after a 36 hour flight from Rome International.
The boat trip takes half a day and soon they are building a hut on stilts in the shallows from drift wood and basic supplies, too risky to live on the land as the island is infested with sea crocs. Once the house is built the two begin to bond as he teaches the kid all the skills his father taught him to live off and on the sea, like fishing, cooking, boating and general island survival, a handful of other amiable fisherman living their for the season.
After Natan learns how to fish coral reefs and not lose his toes to jellyfish, and the two befriend a sea egret bird they name 'Blanquita' (who the viewer believes to be some sort of female metaphor), none of the female species on the islands. But with a storm brewing is time to see how good a carpenter dad is as the waves lap the structure and little Blanquita hides with the sea crocodiles.
Watching this is like pressing your face to a tropical fish bowl after a hard days work in the office and enjoying the serenity of the colorful fish swimming around; such is the aquatic sereneness of this movie, escapism of sorts.
For $26,567 dollars to make it looks beautiful and iridescent as an expensive cocktail and good enough to drink but no drama of sorts on offer, simply the bonding between father and son on screen. We presume this right of passage adventure happened in their real lives, why it was so important to make a film of it. Its certainly good acting as you believe they are father and son throughout.
Some critics have grunted about the film being pointless and for all its laid-back charm it offers no real answers or opinions on anything and so drifts in the ebb and flow of the Caribbean Sea. But the point to me is that so little is said on any subject because we're free to make our own conclusions about the world Natan inhabits for the summer and his fathers motives for taking him there. Jorge relationship with mum is never explored, as are child welfare issues.
Without Playstations and cell phones this is how people live and its quite roar and beautiful and something that appeals to us all deep down as we surrender to capitalism and the purchase of things to make us feel happy when we are not really that happy with our lot. The family bond must be more important than dumping the kids in front of the TV so mum and dad can go online and play Angry Birds. It's a film that touches that nerve and reminds us of where we all came from and ho we are all controlled in the modern world to not enjoy nature as it was meant to be.
Imdb.com - 7.4/10.0 (1.3245 votes)
Metacritc.com - 77% critics approval rating
Rottentomatos.com -91% critic's approval rating
Los Angeles Times -'It is to González-Rubio's credit that he can celebrate nature so joyously, yet suggest neither the preferred lifestyle of either parent is superior to the other'.
The Guardian -'An extraordinary portrait of a positive and meaningful father-son relationship that touches the heart'.
The Mexico Triumph -'Mexico's Alamar arrives like a breath of fresh air reminding us of cinema's potential for simple and elegant beauty'.
DC List - 'A beautifully shot and carefully nuanced look at the forging of a bond between a father and a son'
Time Out -'Moving but never sentimental, ambient but rigorously focused, this is an assured, refreshingly simple film where the dramas and responsibilities of parenthood are caressed.
Actors: Jorge Machado, Roberta Palombini, Natan Machado Palombini, Néstor Marín
* Directors: Pedro Gonzalez Rubio
* Format: PAL
* Region: Region 2
* Number of discs: 1
* Classification: U
* Studio: New Wave Films
* DVD Release Date: 28 Feb 2011
* Run Time: 73 minutes
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DVD only review.
Alamar, which means "To The Sea" is a journey of discovery and a meditation on simplicity for it tells the story of a young boy born to people from different worlds. The mother is (Roberta Palombini) an Italian living in cosmopolitan Rome, and the father is a Mexican fisherman (Jorge Machado) who adores the simplistic life alongside nature - a million miles away from the materialism of the west. The two meet and fall in love when he visits Rome, and their son ( Natan) is the joy they share, but sadly after a short period of time their cultural differences cause a rift between them, and the father returns to Mexico to fish the coral reefs of the Banco Chichorro.
The story of the film is the tale of the time the son spends with his father and grandfather during the long summer months when he visits. It is a tale of love and relationships set in stunning scenery. For what happens after they meet during the summer you must watch the film.
My daughter recommended this film to me, and at first I was sceptical as it is in Spanish with English subtitles and sometimes I find this distracting in a film. However I thought the subject matter was of interest and so I settled down to watch the film with an open mind. It isn't very long at all - only 73 minutes, and in many ways I found it to be more of a documentary on life than a drama. You are given prime seats to view reality. It's like a birds eye view on a tiny family living in the most amazing setting.
A simple wooden home on stilts in the water, days spent fishing, evenings watching stars, simple meals, stunning interaction between man and wildlife both in the water and on the shore, and all the time a portrayal of love between father, grandfather and five year old Natan.
Arguments are missing- there is no dwelling on the heartache between husband and wife - no custody battles -no rowing or bitterness, but rather a positive look at life through the eyes of innocence.
I felt connected to the place -part of it. After an hour I realised I had been entranced by the beauty of the landscape and the simple days spent in the open air. This film is a joyous celebration of Natan's short 5 years, rather than a depiction of a relationship breakdown with him in the middle. He isn't the toy in the cracker being pulled in two directions, but the product of a loving relationship where two people just couldn't live in each other's worlds.
This is the first time the director Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio took credit for a solo production, which has gone on to win many film festival awards all over the world.He was responsible for the stunning filming, directing, editing and also the writing of this film, which is augmented by the superb performances by the three main characters that play their parts so accurately, and ensure the film makes compelling viewing. The director has a love for the region and an empathy and admiration for those that live there, and this film is the result of this respect
The film moves at a gentle pace, the sea and the sky framing each day, lighting the horizon in stunning azure light. The cinematography is beautiful with superb underwater footage of coral reef and marine life. It is like opening a copy of The National Geographic magazine and being immersed in the colourful pages for an hour. If you like action and plot - forget it - if you are happy to observe and be guided then this film is for you.
I have seen it several times now and each time I feel more relaxed. It's like a meditation- no cars, no TV, no iPod, no shops- just a celebration of simplicity.
There are No Extras On This DVD
There are no DVD extras and no prohibitive certificates. This is a PG film to be enjoyed by all. There are some scenes depicting fishing which personally I dislike being vegetarian, but in the context of the film and the lives that depend on it it's fine with me.
I don't keep many DVDs in my permanent collection.They have to be superb to warrant shelf space, and to be my treasures they have to offer something special.This does more than that and it sits with the best.
The Times newspaper called this a docudrama and I would agree with this. It is a unique film which I adore and can recommend to anyone. It is like looking at life through five year old eyes where everything is new and fresh, innocent and enchanting.
This review was previously published on Ciao under my user name Violet1278.