Ten years have passed since Elena’s son, then six years old, has disappeared. Today Elena lives and works at a seaside restaurant until she meets a teenager who reminds her of her missing son.
Thankfully, the bulk of Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s isn’t as intent as its first ten minutes, an incredible continuous sequence that follows a young mother as she gets a phone call from her frightened five-year old son, whose father has left him alone on a beach. The mother goes from bewildered to desperate as the director’s roving camera follows her, Marta Nieto as the frantic Elena giving notice early on that she’s a force to be reckoned with.
The bulk of the film takes place some ten years later as Elena has relocated to live near the beach where her son disappeared, having taken a job at a seaside restaurant, keeping a silent vigil, having yet to truly mourn her lose. And when she meets Jean, (Jules Porier) a teenager who’s the age her missing son would be and happens to look as she imagines he might, she’s hardly prepared for the emotional turmoil that follows.
With nods toward Hitchcock’s Vertigo and De Palma’s Obsession, Sorogoyen establishes early on that Jean is not Elena’s missing son, yet that doesn’t undercut the dramatic tension as our heroine is forced to content with a decade’s worth of suppressed emotions. Her maternal instincts kick in, he’s confused by and misinterprets her actions and continued tragedy seems in the offing.
Credit Sorogoyen for not giving in to the story’s potential lurid elements and instead offering up a thoughtful and moving portrait of grief and healing, a story of hard-earned redemption that doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties inherent in tackling mental illness. A haunting film that will resonate with any parent.
3 1/2 Stars