Violeta At Last


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Violeta At Last
"The strength of this film is in Chaverri’’s finely judged performance."

There’s a pitanga tree in Violeta’s garden. The harsh, sour fruit grow sweet over time. It’s useful for repelling pests, but Violeta (Eugenia Chaverri) has bigger problems. She seems to want to love her family, especially the little ones, but every time they visit somebody starts haranguing her about how everything would be better if she sold her house.

Violeta doesn’t want to sell her house. It’s her home, and she loves it, even though her husband left years ago and she’s elderly now. The pitanga tree is part of a green island now surrounded by urban streets. She seems to be holding on not only to an older way of life but to an approach that places greater value on life itself. And she’s not doing so without a plan. She wants to let out rooms in the house to cover the cost. Her swimming instructor agrees to move in. Her relatives are scandalised that she would share the place with a man to whom she’s not related. They’re not very impressed by her taking swimming lessons in the first place, seeming to think that at this stage in her life any effort at self improvement is pointless.

Copy picture

It’s not subtle, but then neither is ageism in real life. There’s fun to be had watching the savvy and sharp-witted older woman run rings around her relatives in debate, able to understand them much better, with her greater experience, than they can understand her. When a fresh problem arises, she rises to the challenge and fights it with considerable vigour, though nothing is straightforward. The support of her friends speaks to the value of the support she has offered to others throughout her life.

The strength of this film is in Chaverri’s finely judged performance. She imbues Violeta with a deep love of life that ultimately goes beyond mere nostalgia. There are scenes that recall Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice; for all the pragmatism of her focus, she seems to be close to a different kind of understanding, a larger perspective expressed in the attention she pays to growing things. The beautifully detailed sets map out a life filled with diverse interests all of which have led Violeta to this moment, so that as those around her doubt her capacity to recognise her own needs, she has never been more herself.

Reviewed on: 03 Mar 2018
Share this with others on...
Violeta At Last packshot
A 72-year-old divorcee plans to rent out rooms in her home and take swimming lessons, but has to deal with family members and financial institutions that think they know what's best for her.

Director: Hilda Hidalgo

Writer: Hilda Hidalgo

Starring: Eugenia Chaverri, Gustavo Sánchez Parra, Óscar Castillo

Year: 2017

Runtime: 87 minutes

Country: Costa Rica, Mexico


Glasgow 2018

Search database:

If you like this, try: