By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Charles Taylor
By Melissa Anderson
By Inkoo Kang
By Amy Nicholson
By Sam Weisberg
Jorge, a lithe, long-haired child of nature with a discreet yin-yang tattoo, takes his son to Banco Chinchorro, to stay on a mangrove-covered barrier island off the southernmost coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico. There, in the company of a grizzled old fisherman, they dive for langostas, doze in hamacas, feast on fresh-caught barracuda with fresh-made tortillas, and live in a shack on stilts. Natan learns how to snorkel and catch a fish, coping with crocodiles as well as the camera.
González-Rubio shot the movie himself. Although the cameraman's presence is occasionally acknowledged by young Natan's glance, the natural world is neither blatantly anthropomorphized nor unduly dramatized, despite Jorge's ability to talk to the birds. Underwater reef exploration aside, the big thrill is the little egret that several times appears at the shack, looking for bugs, and receives the name "Blanquita." The bird's subsequent disappearance is accepted as a law of the universe; Natan makes a drawing of Blanquita, along with sketches of stingrays and the camera, to toss in a bottle and send off on the shining sea.
Natan's parting is similarly unforced. Before the boy returns home to Rome (where he is last seen with Mom, feeding fish in the park), Jorge promises Natan that no matter where he is, his father will be looking after him. However blunt, this sudden introduction of primal faith is wholly appropriate. As much home movie as neorealist non-narrative, Alamar provides a nearly hypnotic immersion in the brilliantly aqua, impossibly tranquil Caribbean—a Paradise Regained not just for Natan, but for everyone.
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