Patagonia10 September, 2011
Marc Evans’ Patagonia tells the simultaneous stories of two women at two very different stages in their lives. Set to the beautiful backdrop of both Wales and Argentina, the film’s exquisite beauty creates a breath-taking surrounding for an equally breath-taking plot.
The film introduces us to the character of Cerys (Marta Lubos). An elderly Argentinian woman with poor sight and a quick wit, she decides to travel back to her mother’s homeland of Wales, although her son and daughter-in-law are under the impression she is merely travelling to Buenos Aires for a cataract operation. However, after she insists her young companion Alejandro brings along his passport, it is clear she has other things in mind.
As punishment for becoming pregnant out of wedlock, Cerys’ mother was sent to relatives in Patagonia. Leaving behind “Nant Briallu” – a Welsh farm in the hills, she never returns to her homeland and instead marries an Argentinian man and raises Cerys in Patagonia.
Next, we are presented with the character of Gwen (Nia Roberts). A young Welsh woman who travels to Patagonia with her photographer partner, Rhys (Matthew Gravelle). After being together for seven years, the couple have struggled to have a child. A poignant scene in the opening thirty minutes of the film, Gwen receives the news that it is her that cannot conceive and her unquestionable remorse links the audience further to her character and the journey she is about to undertake.
When Rhys has to travel to Argentina for a work assignment, Gwen decides to accompany him so that they can forget their troubles for a few short days. As they arrive in Buenos Aires, their devotion to each other is evident as they enjoy a night on the town. But after Gwen refuses a marriage proposal from Rhys, it is clear that she is looking for something more; possibly herself.
The film follows these two women – one looking for the past and one looking for her future. The parallels between them are subtle and approached with delicacy. You are equally drawn in to both stories, as Evans manages to connect the audience to the characters and their emotions unfathomably.
The cinematography is unquestionably what makes this film that little bit special. It’s 118 minutes running time may seem extravagant, but it is clear that Evans wanted the film to convey the undeniable beauty of both Patagonia and Wales and the drawn out shots of mountains, lakes and barren desert certainly did the trick.
Each actor brings their character to life with outstanding performances but it is the relationship between Cerys (Marta Lubos) and Alejandro (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) that really shines through. Her life knowledge and sharp wit contrasted with Alejandro’s lack of self-confidence and reclusive personality makes for a heart-warming and inspiring watch.
As each story must come to an end, you feel as though you have been through the very journey each character has undertaken. Often exhausting at times, Evans manages to keep audience and character firmly together. Each one highlights something in all of us, whether it is regarding growth, relationships, or our past, present or future. This, along with the incomprehensible beauty of its back drop, is what makes the film so stunningly accessible.
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