Low budget independent fares don’t get any more piercing and more beautiful than this. This Mexican quasi-documentary Alamar, or To The Sea, is orchestrated by nothing more than shoestrings, yet where this film lacks with technical resources, it makes up for such gorgeously captured natural resources and a universal theme that would strike an emotional note. First-time director Pedro González-Rubio shoots the Banco Chincorro (the world’s second largest atoll reef) in glorious HD, chronicling the minimalist yet heartfelt tale of a fisherman and his soon-to-be estranged son as they both spend the last of their days together before the son bids farewell and moves to Italy with his mother. It’s a simple account, yet beneath its almost Malickian rhythms and naturalism, it reveals some heartbreaking truths in family relationships – the humble father Jorge separates from his wife due to differences – she a European citizen, he a native of the Mayan world, where the sea, the sky and the way of living are forces of nature to him as the city-life is to her.
Enter Natan, the product of this broken marriage, a doe-eyed toddler with a spirit of adventure, bonds with his father not through big, dramatic plot de rigueur but through the vivid, daily routines of a fisherman – the idyllic mundanity of fishing, descaling, painting their seaside shack, watching the sunsets – and director Rubio draws enormous power through these very simple and real images without overt sentimentalism or cheap manipulation. At its heart, we observe an affectionate father bequeathing a heritage, a soulful memory to his son before the Italian metropolitan life overshadows this important, enigmatic part of his childhood. Even a mere appearance of a white egret charmingly named “Blanquita” bears tremendous symbolism to this parting, as Jorge and Natan embarks to search the “lost” egret into the mangroves, the truth dawns into the boy’s young mind that his father will bear the same fate, eternally searching for his son in the horizon.
Transcends the art of blending documentary with fiction. Unhurried and graceful, this is a bittersweet, aching paean to fatherhood, a soaring hymn to nature and a stark, primal reminder of what makes us who we are.