Wednesday, January 26, 2011


After viewing Alamar last week, one question was stuck at the front of my mind. As I began writing tonight, it seemed natural that I should use the question to frame a discussion of the film. And, if I knew that everyone who might read this post had already seen the film, that question is exactly where I would start. But I've got a feeling that relatively few people have seen Alamar, and I firmly believe that I would be doing anyone who hasn't a disservice by raising the question ahead of time.

So... where does that leave me? Well, it obviously leaves me without my planned jumping-off point. But Alamar is a far more dynamic film than one limited question could do justice.

Alamar explores the relationship between father and son as well as the relationship between man and nature. It contrasts an urban European lifestyle with a rural North American lifestyle and subsequently intermingles two vastly different cultures. Alamar is beautiful. And yes, by that I mean that the photography is beautiful, but I also mean that the story and tone are beautiful. The film is beautifully paced, for crying out loud! Honest to god, Alamar is cut in such a way that the 'space' between scenes just feels perfect. And there is a serendipity inherent to this film that--no joke--seems borderline magical. (I realize how hyperbolic that last statement sounds, but I truly mean it.)

What's the movie about, you ask? The movie is about a 5-year old boy named Natan. Natan's parents separated three years after Natan's birth, due primarily to the fact that they come from two diverse walks of life--dad Jorge is a Mexican who lives and fishes off the Carribean coast, mom Roberta is an Italian on the verge of moving home to bustling Rome. Before traveling to the other side of the world to live with his mother in Italy, Natan spends several weeks in Banco Chinchorro with his father and grandfather, learning to fish, living off the sea, immersed in nature.

And that's pretty much it. Beyond this basic premise lies very little story, if any. Alamar is not a popcorn movie. If you're looking for a traditional plot structure and conventionally drawn characters, you'll be disappointed.

Alamar is--with all due respect to I Am Love--the most beautiful movie released in Seattle last year, one of the most extraordinary documentary-style films I've seen, and will undoubtedly rank among my Top Ten films of 2010 (that list coming very soon to a blog near you).

A week on, I still can't get Alamar out of my head. It would be impossible for me to recommend it too highly. Please, dear readers, see it soon.

[PS: If you see Alamar and want to know what my 'big question' about the film is/was, and maybe even would like to discuss it, let me know.]

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