If Pedro Gonzales-Rubio’s Alamar receives little attention, the film’s own virtues will be largely to blame. Set in a tropical locale populated by mysterious and beautiful creatures, Alamar remains strikingly free of sensationalism. Poised midway between documentary and feature cinema, it shows an episode in the life of Jorge, a newly divorced father who takes his young son Natan on a trip to a remote Mexican village where the boy’s grandfather ekes his living from the sea. The film’s exquisite balance between fiction and fact may prove disconcerting to its audience, especially when Natan, age three, is exposed to real physical dangers. Nevertheless, the film’s precarious stance is a challenge its director freely accepts, like the risks his subjects face daily while barracuda fishing, with perfect nonchalance.
The film’s leanness – no trained actors, special effects or musical soundtrack – is one of its greatest strengths. Even avowed documentaries, in their bid to make their subjects seem urgent, too frequently succumb to the perceived need to establish a crafted, suspenseful story. In contrast, Alamar remains wonderfully artless, unencumbered by psychology or plot. Consequently, the locations depicted never feel pitched to the viewer like tourist destinations. Indeed, there can be no brochures advertising bare life. Like a Henry David Thoreau who has made the sea his pond and Alamar his Walden, Gonzales-Rubio, seems so convinced of the compelling singularity of his subjects that he feels no need to belabor them. Everything is left free to bear witness of itself.
Yet Alamar, fittingly, uses language economically. The dialogue is never cheaply clever but remains unselfconsciously poetic. Nor do the film’s many silences, equally unscripted, lack a similar profundity. The result is a film which is blessedly unpretentious. Alamar never lectures on nature or a correct relationship to it. It merely offers the viewer, in scene after scene of a father introducing his son to the facts of the natural world, the pure possibility of living deliberately and without fear. –Brian Kubarycz
August 15 – 7 pm – Post Theater