A Map For Love


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

A Map For Love
"The effort made to conjure and observe the shifting weather pays off in mounting tension, an atmosphere of expectation and dread."

Roberta (Moro Andrea) is contemplating getting serious with girlfriend Javiera (Francisca Bernardi). She doesn't expect her mother Ana (Mariana Prat) to approve. A sailing trip for the three of them might clear the air; but there's a lot of alcohol on board, each of the women has different agenda, and it soon becomes clear that they're heading into troubled waters.

So far, so superficial. There are a lot of passionate yet ultimately shallow films out there about gay people's struggle for acceptance; still more about generational conflict. A Map For Love is something notably more sophisticated. How much is Roberta's expectation of her mother's disapproval really a desire, a longing for the opportunity to feel morally and socially superior? Does she really want Javiera to befriend her mother or will it make her jealous of them both? Is Ana's discomfort rooted in denial of the sacrifice of her own personal space that she has made to cater to her resentful child? And if Javiera is the most skilled when it comes to getting people to like her, is being liked something she really wants?

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These and many other questions complicate the narrative that unfolds. It's played out in long takes skillfully shot atop the shifting waters. The effort made to conjure and observe the shifting weather pays off in mounting tension, an atmosphere of expectation and dread. This is enhanced by long slow shots from the surface of sea when Roberta goes for a swim, drawing on Polanski's Knife In The Water. Subtle, unobtrusive references to other boat-based films are made, reminding us of all the ways things can go wrong at sea. Paralleling this is the dawning realisation that in real life, relationships are never going to be plain sailing. Roberta cannot have the compliant girlfriend and admiring mother she desires - at least not wihout being prepared to make some concessions herself.

The simple presentation of the women, far away from the world of men, simply dressed and barely made-up, jars with prevailing cinematic imagery to give us the sense we are watching something much more raw - a privileged insight even for other women. Each is performing to a degree, imitating the character she thinks she ought to be. Independent adult, revolutionary, pillar of society. As the weather roughs them up, we start to see the characters underneath; and they, perhaps, begin to understand what will be necessary in the journey that lies ahead.

Sharp, atmospheric and powerfully delivered, A Map For Love is a challenging film about human nature, deserving of a much wider audience than it is likely to get. Catch it if you can.

Reviewed on: 15 Feb 2013
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A Map For Love packshot
A young woman, her girlfriend and her mother go on a sailing trip together, and tension grows between them.

Director: Fernández Constanza

Writer: Fernández Constanza

Starring: Moro Andrea, Francisca Bernardi, Romano Kottow, Francisco Pizarro Saenz de Urtury

Year: 2012

Runtime: 81 minutes

Country: Chile


Glasgow 2013

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