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“Alamar,” a Father, a Son and the Sea

“Alamar,” a Father, a Son and the Sea (photo)

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An Italian woman meets a Mexican man. They fall in love, they have a son. And when the relationship ends, like a fairytale in which someone has to return to the mortal world from which he or she came, the woman readies herself and the child to head back to Rome.

Well, Mexico is just as much mortal territory as anywhere else. But the setting of “Alamar,” the Caribbean Sea’s Banco Chinchorro reef, an extravagantly beautiful landscape of clear azure waters and giant skies scattered with floating seagulls, has an incontestable air of the otherworldly.

That’s where Jorge (Jorge Machado) is from, where his father Nestór (Nestór Marín) still lives, and where he brings his five-year-old son Natan (Natan Machado Palombini) for a last bit of time together before he goes off to live thousands of miles away.

07132010_alamar3.jpgIn an open-air wooden shack perched out on the water, the men partake in a bright daydream of a life, donning snorkels and diving to spearfish, sleeping in colorful hammocks, cooking seafood stew and befriending a socially inclined egret who walks into their kitchen one day.

Director Pedro González-Rubio has built “Alamar” on a frame of nonfiction — as you might guess by the character names, the people in the film are playing variations on their real life selves, including Roberta (Roberta Palombini), Jorge’s ex and Natan’s mother. And maybe that’s the source of the powerful undertone of love and longing that makes the film so deeply compelling.

Loaded into this drifting idyll of underwater footage, lazy evening conversations about drinking coffee, time spent cleaning the day’s catch and a goofy father-son wrestling match is some considerable emotional weight.

The trip is not just about Jorge’s imparting a sense of cultural identity into his son, it’s about impending separation, about trying to absorb someone’s presence into your very pores because you may never have this kind of time together again. In one scene, at night, still shots (González-Rubio also ably served as the cinematographer) show us a beetle crawling along the wall, the clothes hung to dry from the rafters fluttering from the far edge of a passing storm, and then Jorge, crouched on the floor by Natan’s bed, watching his son sleep.

07132010_alamar2.jpgThe impermanence of everything in “Alamar” — from the trip itself, to the family’s relationship with the wild egret, who comes and goes as she pleases, to Natan’s very childhood — is carried over to a final shot of a bubble bursting, and a title card before the credits noting the efforts to preserve Banco Chinchorro as a World Heritage Site.

The last, while not unwelcome, is really the only moment in which the film’s glorious setting supercedes its characters. “Alamar” could easily have been an anthropological travelogue of a simpler, idealized way of life, or worse, could come across as someone’s extended vacation photos, but it’s a far more complex brew, at heart a reminder that time may be fleeting, but that doesn’t make life any less sweet.

“Alamar” is now playing in New York.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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