Pedro GonzÃ¡lez-Rubio's shimmeringly beautiful "Alamar" tells of a young Mexican father, Jorge Machado, taking his 5-year-old son Natan on a two-week vacation at Banco Chinchorro, a coral reef in the Mexican Caribbean, so the boy can experience living close to nature before he returns to Rome, where he lives with his Italian mother, Roberta Palombini.
GonzÃ¡lez-Rubio is ambiguous in regard to the line between documentary and fiction, but he creates the feeling that, in essence, the parents and their son are playing themselves. It seems that Jorge, who loves living close to the land, became as miserable in Rome as Roberta did trying to live in rural Mexico.
Jorge is immediately enchanted with Chinchorro, where father and son go deep-sea diving and fishing. The water, which ranges from turquoise to ultra-marine in its hues, could not be clearer or more enticing. They stay with the silver-haired, grandfatherly Matraca, and "Alamar" ("To the Sea") becomes a lovely idyll in a setting of endless natural splendor. Father and son bond in the pursuit of a simple life in which Jorge is a playful, affectionate father and Natan a most responsive son.
However, if one happens to be as urban-minded as Roberta is, one would have to admit that the life of a fisherman might become boring fairly quickly. It is to GonzÃ¡lez-Rubio's credit that he can celebrate nature so joyously, yet suggest neither the preferred lifestyle of either parent is superior to the other.
"Alamar." MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes. In Spanish and some Italian, with English subtitles. Playing at Laemmle's Music Hall, Beverly Hills.