Review: Marina Shron’s ‘Sea Child’

Sea Child Movie Review - 2014 Marina Shron Short Film

The 11 enchanting minutes of Marina Shron’s Sea Child offer a glimpse into Colombia’s Laguna de Tota and the visceral impact it has upon a grieving adolescent.

Narrated by Federica Cafferata’s Lila, she recounts the sentiments of her disenchanted father before “the lake took him back.” While Lila roams around the mountain lake with her father’s camera, her mother (the gorgeous Viña Machado) lay upon the sand, unwilling to directly the face the waters that took her husband. Although the loss of their loved one is briefly touched on in conversation, neither understand what to make of their visit. After a swimming lesson request is denied, Lila darts towards the water and whispers softly about how the deceased “turned into a fish,” and so, the crystal-clear visuals of Sea Child transcend into a an aquatic journey of surrealism; the daughter, camera over the shoulder, creates her own images and saves them deep within her soul.

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While it’s never clear what exactly happened to the father, Lina’s acute intuition points directly to her mother. Perhaps she’s only guilty of looking the other way, but the whispers tell the story of a woman who found love and lost it all at Laguna de Tota. The cinematography of Henri Quiroga captures the beautiful landscape but also focuses on the female form (both mother and daughter), thus leading the viewer to believe that its power may be a clue to the mystery. In the end, both man and woman swim together, but the fantasy offers only a brief cleansing.

Shron’s understated approach compliments the Colombian setting, and the story is told through the physical actions of both actresses. In fact, Lina seems to unknowingly embrace her mother’s burdens through a brief hug, only to carry them with her (and the empty camera) to the water. Cafferata is tremendous as the wide-eyed Lina, the navigator of the fantastical, and the extraordinary beauty of Viña Machado is a wonder in itself.

Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor and chief film critic.