Tuesday, 12 October 2010
If you had the chance of being brought up as a kid in the Eternal City of Rome, that would seem like a good option - to most people. This documentary explores the contrast between life in Rome and a radical alternative - in reality it only explores the alternative! Jorge of Mayan decent and Italian Roberta were together for three and a half years and while it lasted it was unbelievable. The relationship even spawned Natan - a likeable and innocent boy who has spent most of his life with his mother in Rome. Thankfully the couple parted amicably and arrangements are made for Natan to spend some time with his father - who lives on the jungle coast of Mexico where he, like his father, is a fisherman.
At first the transition from Roman apartment to shack on stilts in the sea and the all-pervasiveness of water overwhelm Natan. But as he accompanies his father and grandfather on fishing trips, his confidence begins to grow and he develops physically into a boy who knows how to play, wrestle and generally be a boy. Jorge is both a good father and a good teacher. Life in the shack is pretty spartan and the diet is okay - as long as you like fish. Interest is provided by the wildlife - Frigate Birds, crocodiles, seagulls, a cattle ibis named Blanquita and of course many many fish.
As the film progresses we are invited to slow down and synchronise our being with the rhythm and pace of life as a fisherman on Mexico's huge Caribbean reef off the Yucatan Peninsula. The relentless pounding over the waves in the boat. The tranquil and vibrant beauty of the reef and it's fish which is shattered when end up on the spear-tips of Jorge and his father. The birds and crocodile feeding on the waste when the fish are gutted on the shack verandah. The Cattle Ibis who helpfully allows herself to be adopted so that she can clean up the cockroaches. A wonderful observation of a complex and sustainable ecosystem.
In some ways this film echoes The Wind Will Carry Us and if you like action chases, the only kind in this film are as the fish try to evade capture. At the end of the day, Natan gains an education no school in Italy could provide. He also learns the importance of the tradition his father maintains. But as with all good things, Natan must return to the Eternal City. Perhaps eternity isn't always everything it's cracked up to be?
The best way to describe this experience is to quote part of review by someone on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) - a review by someone who has not quite mastered the technique of reflection: "I saw this movie with a friend who is a native Mexican. We both were bored stiff! We both kept waiting from something to happen, but nothing did.". If only she had eyes to see!
I caught this as a one-off showing in my local Art-House cinema in Southampton today. Try and check it out if you can - you will be rewarded.
I'll give it 7/10.