It’s not often that good films come out at the start of the year. Most films that come out in January and February are ones awards shows would typically overlook. And a lot of audiences dothe same. Magoado is an anomaly though. It’s a film that you shouldn’t overlook, and its cast, especially the lead actor Diego Alvarez, should get attention when next year’s awards shows are looking for nominees. On top of that, it’s hard to believe it’s a debut film for writer/director Ruben Sainz as well.
Magoado tells the story of a reclusive fisherman named Peio (Alvarez). He’s poor, doesn’t seem to like people much, and is an alcoholic to boot. As lonely as he is however, he seems content to live by himself. That quickly changes with the unexpected arrival of his teenage son Markel (Dorleta Urretabizkaia). Peio hasn’t seen his son for 15 years, and is in no condition to be a father to him. His son however wants to get to know him, and will try everything he can to be a part of his life.
Magoado doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel by telling a new story. But what it does however is draw you in by showing interesting characters with strong personalities. Alvarez plays Peio in a way that you can’t help but pity him, You feel this even though you may want to hate him. You hope he changes his ways, and becomes the father Markel desperately needs. But it doesn’t feel as if he wants to, or can.
There’s an emotional scene past the halfway mark where a friend of Peio’s confronts him that really defines the film. She calls him a coward, because she knows deep down he wants to be someone different than he is, but is too afraid to try. It’s a struggle for him to decide whether he will accept or reject his son. And the way the movie plays out, you really don’t know which direction he will head until he makes his mind up.
Other than the strong characters, the other thing that makes this movie really shine is the decision to avoid going down rabbit holes. You don’t know what Peio is avoiding, or why he ran away from his son, and it doesn’t matter. You don’t know how he came to owe money to the locals, and it doesn’t matter either. And you don’t know anything about anyone other than the main storyline, and that’s all that needs to be told. Too many films over explain things, and it turns a good film into a bad one. With a run time of 72 minutes Magoado had to stay on track to tell its story, and it succeeded in doing so.
Magoado may or may not get the attention it’s due. But it’s clear the Sainz is going to be a creative force in the near future. He wrote a common story in a new and entertaining way. On top of that, the film is shot in a square image format that directs you attention to exactly what Sainz wants you to see. Unlike Peio he’s not afraid to take chances, and that’s something film desperately needs today.
- Rated: NR
- Genre: Drama
- Release Date: 2/24/2023
- Directed by: Ruben Sainz
- Starring: Diego Alvarez, Dorleta Urretabizkaia
- Produced by: Ruben Sainz
- Written by: Ruben Sainz
- Studio: Assembly Line Entertainment, Txindoki Films
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