Sunday, August 9, 2015

Alamar (2009) ✬✬✬✬½




Alamar is a wondrous slice of life documenting a visit by Jorge Mancado and his five year old son Natan to a remote fishing village on the Banco Chinchorro reef in southeastern Mexico. There for a few weeks they live a simple and primitive life in a squatter’s shack built on piers off shore. For city boy Natan, who has been raised by his mother in Rome, the area’s bright sun and crystal azure waters have a spellbinding effect, as he and his dad spend their idyllic days fishing and exploring the nearby wilderness while forming ever deeper bonds.


Director/cameraman Pedro González-Rubio keeps his camera down low, simulating a child’s perspective and offering us an invitation to experience this beautiful world with fresh, uncynical eyes. Through a superbly paced succession of virtually wordless scenes, Alamar builds a pastoral zen in the viewer, leading to a blissful meditation of nature’s splendors. Eventually, even the crocodiles and egrets that circle Jorge and Natan’s shanty seem spiritually connected to their human visitors, and emit their own mellow notes in cosmic harmony.



In many ways. Alamar represents cinema in its purest form, telling a simple visual story that requires no explanation or augmentation. It delivers its exposition in a clear, spartan and direct manner, with nary an extraneous shot or superfluous moment. It also does what cinema does best: transporting viewers to another time and place, far beyond the boundaries of typical experience. With a concise running time of 73 minutes, González-Rubio has created not so much a poem as a beautifully filmed haiku, rife with pertinence and meaning while refusing to fill in every blank. And it is what Alamar leaves unsaid that gives the film its deep satisfaction and haunting presence in the soul. This film not only makes you think, it makes you better person.