Tetro, Agua Fria De Mar: theatre versus naturalism

I managed to get up early to go and watch Tetro, written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. As in the Godfather films, Coppola explores relationships between father and son and between brothers. Unlike the Godfather trilogy, Tetro is in black and white (with the occasional flashback in colour), a device which aims to ‘illustrate the shadow that the father throws over Tetro’s life,’ showing that Coppola’s work seems to have ‘taken a new direction’ in that the work focuses more on ‘moods and atmosphere than on plot.’

Watching Tetro felt like watching a filmed theatre production; the actions dramatised and devoid of believable emotion. The Buenos Aires setting is filled with exaggerated foreignness and glamourized scenes of cafes and Vespa’s along to a soundtrack we’ve all heard many times before. It makes me want to quote Spiderman; ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’ By this I mean that Coppola’s reputation can influence many to watch his films based on his name alone, so with this power why does he produce films like Tetro, which make me feel nothing? It would have pleased me so much to see him express something that I haven’t seen before or inspire me in some way. But no, I was bored.  Here are the first three minutes:

Following this I went to see Agua Fria De Mar, directed by Paz Fabrega, another film concerned with family relationships, but expressed in a very different way. The naturalism of the Costa Rican family living on the beach (all non-professional actors), in particular the children who displayed a pure giggling  innocence, conveys the beauty in real human emotion. The story focused on Mariana, a confused 21 year old searching for meaning in her life on holiday with her boyfriend. She finds a little girl on the beach who tells her that her family is dead and her uncle abuses her.  Mariana is worried about the child and tells her to sleep in the car overnight, saying she will figure out what to do in the morning, but in the morning she is gone… The simple story demonstrates the complexities of  relationships, social pressures between the middle class couple and a working class group as well as the internal conflict of Mariana.

Off to see Skeletons -a British film!

p.s last night I managed to sneak in (though a fire exit at the back of the foyer!) to what I thought was the film awards ceremony but what turned out to be the Rottedam Philharmonic Orchestra concert. The concert was magnificent though so I wasn’t gutted that I got it a bit wrong.

– Flossie Topping

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