Review: Patagonia


Everyone is on a journey with at least one secret. Two road trips, one set in Wales and the other in Patagonia, have another interesting connection. In 1865 about 160 Welsh people immigrated to Argentina to start a new life free of “the poverty of their hill farms and the low wages of the coal mines. They hoped to find a promised land where they could be free to speak their own language and prosper.”

Those words are set in the opening frames as two sets of individuals travel to opposite ends of the world. An old diabetic lady, Cerys (Marta Lubos), escorted by a responsible teenage neighbor boy, Alejandro (Radoslaw Kaim), is ostensibly on her way to an Argentine city for an eye operation. However, the teenager soon learns that they are headed for a plane trip instead – back to Wales, the homeland of her parents.

En route the boy explains to Cerys that he doesn’t have a direction in his life because he is agoraphobic – he doesn’t like people. She corrects him and tells him he means misanthropic. Whatever limitations he thinks he has, this is his journey to overcome them. Her journey is to become united with her past. Her mother had been forced to leave Wales because she had become pregnant with her. Now she is determined to find the farm her mother was from.

Cut with outstanding editing, another story is also playing out, but with a couple who is traveling in the opposite direction. Rhys (Matthew Gravelle), a photographer, is on assignment from Wales to Patagonia to photograph old Chapels. After Gwen (Nia Roberts), the woman he loves, is given ominous medical news, of which the audience is not initially privy, she greets him in a loving embrace and hopes that she can join him. He is overjoyed and off they go. Their journey turns out to be based on whether they will commit to each other or not.

These travelers in life are confronted with obstacles and temptations, some overcome and some not. It is in their responses to their successes and failures that the heart of their development, their self-discovery, is revealed.

“Patagonia” is a richly textured, beautifully filmed classic voyage to find fulfillment. It was the UK’s selection for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards, but it was early beat out for the top 9 list by Israel’s dismal “Footnote” and Belgium’s monstrosity, “Bullhead.”

There is not a reader out there who will enjoy “Bullhead” or “Footnote,” but everyone will come away with a tear and insight about themselves from experiencing “Patagonia,” a film as rich in its cinematography as its juxtaposed stories on the search for identity.

Every road has a story. Every person has a secret.

An official selection of the 2012 Portland International Film Festival
showing Feb. 26 at 2:15 p.m. at Cinema 21

Film Credits

Director: Marc Evans
Producers: Flora Fernandez-Marengo, Rebekah Gilbertson and Huw Eurig Davies
Writer: Laurence Coriat and Marc Evans
Starring: Matthew Rhys, Duffy, Radoslaw Kaim, Marco Antonio Caponi, Matthew Gravelle, Nia Roberts and Marta Lubos
Cinematography: Robbie Ryan
Editing: Mali Evans
Release date(s) June 10, 2010 (Seattle) March 4, 2011 (United Kingdom)
Country: Argentina, United Kingdom
Languages: Welsh, Spanish, and English with English subtitles
Runtime: 119 minutes

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