Unspoken grief on a Chilean island

August 2008 -

Film: El cielo, la tierra y la lluvia - José Luis Torres

In rain and gloom, we follow the lives of three women and a man on a Chilean island. Marta suffers from considerable grief; we never find out exactly why, though there are suggestions that it may be love for her friend Ana. At the end of the film, Marta disappears into the dark forest. Ana loses her job as a shop assistant and goes to work for a lonely man on a farm. There is also something going on between these two. The scene near the end of the film, in which they make up the bed together, may signal the start of a life together. Nothing exceptional happens with the third woman. She is there as a friend, someone to talk to and take walks with.


Still from El cielo, la tierra y la lluvia

El cielo, la tierra y la lluvia (Chili, 2008) has very little dialogue. Director José Luis Torres Leiva leaves a great deal unsaid. The filming method contributes to this: many scenes are dark; we see silhouettes or only hear a voice in a dark room. We seldom see the characters clearly and in close up. In fact, we do not get very close, even though the film is about their inner lives. This film deals in images, the experience of the sky, the earth and the rain and the human beings that move between and among them. With these images Torres Leiva depicts these people's loneliness and hopelessness.

In so doing he uses film in its pure form and forges a cohesive unity of form and contents. But he also makes the film slow and dragging and Torres Leiva's approach and objective are a bit too obvious. The moments in which he seems to freeze the image - lets the light play on a hand, or on a face and poised in a frame – are both beautiful and subtle. They suddenly make it seem as if a Caravaggio painting is being shown on the screen. This gives the film a personal and creative flavour.

El cielo, la tierra y la lluvia was produced with support from the Hubert Bals Fund. Its release was supported by the Hivos/NCDO Culture Fund. From July 31, 2008 it will be playing in several Dutch movie theatres.