There’s a hazy, dream-like quality to director Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio’s first full-length feature Alamar, a tiny film, in both size and scope, about a son and father fishing on the waters of the Mexican Caribbean.
Filmed on a micro-budget with a seeming crew of one, maybe two, the film rides a thin line gauzy line between fiction and documentary. Though spare, and refreshing in its almost wordless portrayal of a boy’s relationship with his loving, but soon to be absent father, Alamar is almost too lightweight. The film floats above the viewer, vague and effervescent, but it dissipates without a lasting effect.
Through pictures and narration at the beginning of the film we learn that Jorge and Roberta had a brief, magical romance and that produced young Natan. Son and mother are set to move away and the young boy will spend a summer with his grandfather and father on the crystal clear waters of the Banco Chinchorro, learning their fishing trade.
Gonzalez-Rubio beautifully showcases the time spent between Natan and Jorge boating about the Mexican Caribbean, fishing and diving to their heart’s content. We follow Natan, Jorge and his father as they catch lobsters, sell lobsters, catch sturgeon, eat sturgeon, smile and talk about the beauty and simplicity of life on the water.
There’s hints of deeper meaning in the film: the rifts between the city world and a natural life and the urge to share both with a child, the passing on of tradition through the generations, and of course the ease of communing with the natural world (a moment between boy and egret is especially touching). I found myself drawn into the quiet relationship between Natan and Jorge and their beautiful world, but I didn’t want to set anchor. Instead, I was restless . The more profound moments – Natan staring out at the sprawling urbanity of his new home at the end of the film or Jorge’s grandfather pontificating on the beauty of just staring at the night – had already evaporated.
Director Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio says, in SFIFF’s film program this year, “I was inspired by the simplicity of happiness” and Alamar is a clear indicator of just that. The film skims the calm ocean, and would benefit from more depth.
Sat, May 1st/ 9:30 / Kabuki
Sun, May 2nd/ 6:15/ Kabuki
Thu, May 06 / 6:30 / PFA