Carlos Sorin’s instantly loveable return to Patagonia is a slowly unfurling film which relies proudly on it’s lead to carry a walking pace story of a man at the beginning of a new part of his life. Alejandro Awada’s brilliant and subtle performance as Marcos, a divorced and ageing sales man on the way to reconnect with his daughter, proved a real winner with the crowds at San Sebastian this year and rightly so. Sorin’s slow pace and insistance on the grand painting of the tiniest of revelations may have irked some critics (surely the only reason it left completely empty handed) but it’s a film which begs to be seen for it’s outlandish understatement.
Along the way old Marcos meets a few other travellers; A boxing coach and his prize female fighter, some hippy travellers who are flabbergasted at his lack of life experience and a couple of stern and funny fisherman who are helping him with his new found hobby. Each character pries a tid bit of information from our heavy hearted but always smiling salesman, parts of stories which hint at a mountain of sadness lying under the surface of those big, always glassy eyes. A meeting with Marcos’ daughter (Victoria Almedia), her husband and new son helps to deepen our concerns and sympathy for Marcos more than ever and Dias De Pesca begins to beautifully reveal itself as a magnificent character study.
After Sorin’s thriller, last year’s The Cat Vanishes, Dias De Pesca (or Gone Fishing, depending on where you’re reading this) is a great return to the empty, big sky landscapes that he has captured so well in the past. At 79 minutes, it feels brisk and fresh and is packed with poignancy. Most of the wonder of Dias De Pesca is ultimately down to Awada who plays Marcos with a defiant but fragile glint in his eye and even though some of the more awkward aspects of his past are spoken about, he uses his performance to hint at a multitude of others.
Sorin holds it all together with little in his toolbox, never going for big tear jerking moments insisting on simply letting the characters play out the small ones to perfection including a fantastic dinner table scene. The Alexander Payne’s of the world have certainly learned a trick or two from Sorin’s sweet, sad and funny looks at falling down and getting up again and it looks like the 58 year old director still has a lot to teach simply by saying very very little.