Sunday, January 9, 2011

Supporting Actress Blogathon: Blanquita in Alamar

This is part of the Supporting Actress Class-Of-2010 Blogathon hosted by Stinky Lulu. For more amazing entries go here.

As you know, this tradition is very special to a lot of people, so I’m more than happy to see the return of Miss Stinky Lulu and her creation, the Supporting Actress Blogathon, which I’ve been a contributor to since the Class of 2007 (Geraldine Chaplin). Also in 2008 (Candela Peña) and last year (Carmen Machi). So, without further ado, here we go…

If there was an Oscar for best performance by an animal in a movie, Blanquita would easily win. When was the last time you saw a wild animal interact with such charm and so unafraid of her co-stars? She’s a young cattle egret, whose presence summons attention and love, and because of this she’s a revelation. I would not even be writing about her if she didn’t have an end credit, which she gets at the movie’s close and deservedly so. Ladies and gentlemen, for your consideration for best supporting actress: Blanquita in Alamar.

This is a docu-fiction hybrid, by Mexican director Pedro González-Rubio, which tells the story of a father and son’s magical trip to Banco Chinchorro, near the Yucatán Peninsula. Five-year-old Natan, a sweet and adventurous Mexican-Italian, goes to spend a week at his grandpa’s seaside house with his father, Jorge, before returning to Rome and his mother. The relationship between his parents didn't work, so she's moved on.

As soon as Natan arrives at this marvelous place, he quickly adapts to his new surroundings, which are rife with animals. Fish, birds and crocodiles abound, but when a small but mighty white bird shows up for breakfast, Natan is smitten. Immediately, as with any other urban kid, he’s impressed by her gorgeous plumage. She walks around the house with a fearless dignity; after all, they're in her territory. They name her Blanquita. He wants to hold her, so Jorge teaches him how to approach the bird without her fleeing. He needs to be gentle with her, Jorge warns him. By telling him this, he’s not only teaching his son how to respect animals, but nature itself.

This moment is captured with grace and magic. The three characters are finally bonded, one of the most beautiful scenes in the entire film. Blanquita has become the perfect pet, but not an ordinary one. She still has the ultimate power: her freedom. Natan seems to understand this, but still asks his father what will happen if she flies away. “She’ll go home,” Jorge says.

At this point Blanquita has stolen not only Natan’s heart but ours as well. Soon, a beach trip on a small boat with Natan, his father and Blanquita in tow is a perfect family outing. On the boat, Jorge want Blanquit a to sit next to him, but she keeps her distance. After a fun-filled day at the beach, she decides to spend the night there, as the men head home. Upon returning the next day, there is no sign of Blanquita. She has disappeared. Natan wants to see her again; Jorge is there to help him. They both ask the locals if they have seen a white bird.

Natan seems desperate and his father encourages him to find her. "Keep calling her, she knows your voice!" He goes around the beach looking anywhere and everywhere. “Blanquita!!” he screams, but she’s gone. There is no reunion between the boy and his wild bird. And that is when little Natan learns a basic life lesson: nothing is forever. As he struggles with the loss of Blanquita, he's also preparing to face reality: very soon he must also say goodbye to his dad and this wonderful place.

González-Rubio has crafted the best non-macho docu-fiction about a father and son, a love letter about the simplicity of nature.

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