For the first half of this sensitive and naturalistic coming-of-age success, you could almost assume that mother and son Paloma (María Renée Prudencio) and Hector (Lucio Giménez Cacho) are in some sort of post-apocalyptic world. Shot to highlight the sparse climate of their antiquated off-season holiday resort, they appear isolated from all humanity (outside of whoever makes their club sandwiches) in the most mundane of vacations. As we further learn about these characters through lengthy and relatively dialogue-free scenes which allows for character development though a nicely observational style of cinematography, you come to wonder if this is exactly what Paloma had planned as her ideal getaway.
As young Jazmina (Danae Reynaud Romero) surprisingly comes into Hecor’s vision at the resort, the dynamic of their holiday agenda – and eventually their relationship – veers as Paloma quickly loses grip of the one man in her life. The intimate bond between them, which has an always alluring ambiguity, is eroded with every stroke of lotion Jazmina applies to Hector’s sunburned back. Eimbcke brings a clever twist to the genre by shifting the usual angst to the parent, featuring perhaps the saddest shot of a woman eating a packet of crisps you will ever see. Paloma’s desperation to avoid abandonment as Hector transitions through adolescence and discovers that he may want more than one woman in his life suggests a history to her that is harrowing and a future that only cannonballs on the sorrow.
Leisurely paced towards a final act payoff so rewarding you’ll savor its flavours for hours afterwards, Eimbcke displays a talent for brave filmmaking on numerous levels that examines familial motions and behaviour with crystal coherency. It’s impressive and satisfying viewing that would provide a bittersweet compliment to Talea from this year’s GYFF.
Edinburgh International Film Festival, 2014.