Review by Jack Foley
MARC Evans’ Patagonia is notable for two things: shedding a light on a little known Welsh community in Patagonia and marking the big screen debut of singing sensation Duffy.
It’ll doubtless be remembered more fondly for the former than the latter, whose presence tends to impede the otherwise smooth flow of the film.
Taken on it’s own terms, Evans’ film exists to tell the story of two women and offers a riveting account of both.
In Wales, Gwen (Nia Roberts) and her photographer boyfriend Rhys (Matthew Gravelle) decide to travel to Patagonia for a photographic assignment that will unwittingly test the strength ofvtheir commitment to each other.
While in Patagonia, elderly Argentinian native Cerys (Marta Lubos) cons her introverted young neighbour Alejandro (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) into accompanying her on a pilgrimage to her ancestral home on a farm in Wales.
Over the course of both journies, loyalties will be tested and lives re-evaluated.
For Gwen, it’s her devotion to Rhys, especially when faced with the prospect of an affair with their charismatic guide (Matthew Rhys).
While for young Alejandro, it forces him to question his outlook on life, especially ad he comes to see a different side to Cerys while embarking on a fledgling relationship if his own with a young Welsh student (Duffy) he meets along the way.
Evans’ film does, admittedly, unfold at a leisurely pace and is ultimately too long. It also runs out of ideas late on, drawing in at least two characters who are unnecessary.
But for the most part it engages thanks to some good performances from it’s principal players (Roberts and Lubos, especially, deliver affecting portrayals) and their interesting stories.
Duffy’s presence, while by no means terrible, threatens to divert the focus of the film during it’s latter stages and her presence relies on one too many unconvincing plot contrivances (she even gets to sing!).
But if you take anything away from the film, it’ll stem from the two leading ladies at the centre of the story as well as Evans’ striking use of Patagonian location.
Running time: 118mins
UK DVD and Blu-ray Release: July 11, 2011