Hilda Hidalgo / Costa Rica, Mexico / 2017 / 87 mins
Part of the Glasgow Film Festival 2018
The film starts with a lasting shot of a woman under water. Violeta (Eugenia Chaverri), 72, takes regular swimming lessons. She is good at holding her breath. She loves to stay still underwater, in a soothed world, protected from the noises of others. Violeta has an inner life and a passion for her traditional home, a vestige of her childhood, in the heart of San Jose, Costa Rica. She relishes her heavenly garden, a green island in the middle of urban streets and commercial developments, where she receives her family and friends.
The film is a delightful piece centred around an indomitable spirit, embodied by the female character at a turning point and not ready to retire from active and social pleasures. Freshly divorced, she is financially vulnerable as a result of her ex-husband’s mishandled property activities. Violeta, however, has an appetite for life and a plan to transform her home into a guesthouse.
The beauty of the movie lies in the small victories of the character’s persona, as she wades through familial and legal adversities; gently, stubbornly, guided by an individual sense of fairness. With age has come a better understanding of life and she is ready to be herself. Daily routines are constantly put under tension, with a pervading threat for Violeta’s future. This element keeps the spectator in suspense until the end of the movie.
Eugenia Chaverri’s performance is subtle but charismatic. She perfectly embodies an interesting personality, engaging the audience with Violeta’s bittersweet story against adversity. The character’s self-reliance is reminiscent of Gran Torino’s central character, performed by Clint Eastwood. Each film has a very different approach, but both individuals show the resistance of strong mature temperaments to adverse influences and reassert justice in their own way.
For her part, Violeta is a real hero against adversity and well worth supporting.