Posted February 3, 2011 by Beth Webb - Events Editor in Films

Patagonia Cinema Review

The latest in Marc Evan’s list of quiet but impressive
accomplishments is Patagonia. Criss-crossing between the lives of two
women as they embark upon multi dimensional journeys, the catalyst for
events is a remote pocket in Argentina, home to a carefully preserved
Welsh community sourcing back to 1865 when 163 people fled the poverties
of the mines and the fields to a promised land.

In the present day we find one of Patagonia’s elders Cerys (Marta Lubos) travelling to the north of Wales to find the farm where her mother grew up, became pregnant and got shipped to Argentina as a punishment for sinning out of wedlock.
She is accompanied by her dishevelled and cautious nephew, pulled away
from his sheltered life under the false pretence he is helping his frail
relative travel for a cataract operation. Sly and a little ballsy,
Marta Lubos avoids clichés and masters a very likable character facing
the end of her days, while Nahuel Perez Biscayart’s youthful Alejandro
plays wide eyed boy too sensible for his own good earnestly.

In Cardiff a young actress (Nia Roberts) and her photographer
boyfriend Rhys struggle with the painful realisation that they cannot
conceive and so flee to Patagonia so he can shoot films and she can try
not to think about it. What should be rejuvenating for the modern couple
instead falls sour as Rhys throws himself into his work and Gwen into
the lustful glances of their Welsh tour guide Mateo (Matthew Rhys) Tantrums, tears and heavy drinking ensue.

The stories may be completely parallel in terms of location and
generation, but the sense of inner conflict is evident from the start.
Both women are stubborn and equally determined; Cerys fights her
diebetes and is defiant in the face of her demise while Gwen’s tastes in
spontenaety show her longing to defy her infertility and capability to
commit. Accompanying these two forces of destruction, Matthew Gravelle’s
Rhys watches his girlfriend slowly succumb to the mysterous charms of
another man while he is unable to provide solace with a sad acceptance
while Alejandro, uneasily, begins his steps towards being a man. Both transformations as a direct result of these women are lovely, if a little tragic to behold.

British cinematographer Robbie Ryan finds and frames the tone
for every scene perfectly, capturing both the landscapes that inspire
Rhys’ work and a Wales rarely viewed (at least by a homegrown audience)
before, hauntingly intimidating and in the final scenes quite

Joseph LoDuca’s score equally encaptures the tones of both
narratives thoughtfully whilst complimenting the locations to make Wales
and Argentina ever more worthy destinations for the two women to find
themselves in. Adding to the soundtrack is supporting actress Duffy in
her onscreen debut. Learning the ukulele for her first role, the
performer is charming as local girl Sissy and bashes out a cracking
cover of Anthony and the Johnsons for the closing credits, showing a
promising side career ahead of her.

Conclusions play a little into the hands of the expected and whereas
it’s not always for cheerful viewing this certainly is a beautiful piece
of cinema, reminiscent of Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mama Tambien (perhaps
not as sexually charged for Cerys’ part of the film) as a
contemporary reflection of two nations both bearing past troubles and
traditions and the effects they have on those hoping to discover
something about themselves.

Beth Webb - Events Editor

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