Dir: Marc Evans
“There’s a word here with 6 L’s… must be a mistake”… Nope, it’s not!
This is essentially a double ‘road trip’ movie, following two separate stories as travellers essentially swap destinations. First there’s couple Rhys (Matthew Gravelle) and Gwen (director’s wife Nia Roberts) from Wales, who travel to Patagonia for Rhys to take on a commissioned work of photographing the areas historic Welsh chapels, however things are made complicated with the addition of a handsome local guide (Matthew Rhys). Then there’s elderly Cerys (Marta Lubos) and her young neighbour Alejandro (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart), who travel (somewhat reluctantly for him) from Argentina to Wales in search of her mother’s family home, meeting student Sissy (Duffy) along the way.
The first time I watched this film, in the cinema in April 2011, I didn’t speak any Welsh, now I do… But I still don’t speak Spanish! Though there are brief bits of English, it’s primarily in these two languages, though really there’s not too much dialogue anyway, just small exchanges more than anything long or complex. Evans has clearly chosen to focus more on the picturesque settings, with the stories unfolding within them almost taking a backseat to the journey itself. The film is full of beautiful shots, both the dusty but beautiful Patagonia, and the contrastingly lush green Wales.
As it is a road movie there is literally a lot of time spent on roads, a lot of the time in buses. People unfamiliar with Wlaes may nit realise that Cerys and Alejandro’s journey actually takes them the full length of the country, showing glimpses of the different areas from the capital city of Cardiff, through large towns such as Aberystwyth and into smaller rural areas in the north.
As far as IMDb states this is Duffy’s only acting role to date, she’s actually not bad at all, and even gets to sing a little. However, the real star of the film is Marta Lubos. Though she says very little, she’s very endearing and expressive, really stealing the scenes she’s in. Cerys’ story is far more enjoyable and moving than any other shown, it’s the most effective part of the whole film emotionally.
As a side point of personal interest, I actually saw a scene being filmed here on the seafront, thought I didn’t realise what it was at the time and even had a drink with the director while he was at a film festival. Marc Evans is clearly interested in people and depicting interesting stories, but this film highlights more his love for his Welsh heritage and Wales itself.