17 November 2013 | l_rawjalaurence
Intense Three-Character Drama of Alienation
Set on Christmas Eve, NAVIDAD (Christmas) focuses on the lives of three teenagers (Manuela Martelli, Diego Ruiz, Alicia Rodriguez), who have all been alienated from their families in some way: one is on a fruitless quest for her father; another has been expelled by his father from school; and the third is looking for evidence of her dead father's lives. They pass the night away in a lonely house belonging to Aurora's (Martelli's) dead father. Faced with the prospect of fending for themselves, all three of them acquire self-reliance; but at the same time director Sebastian Lelio continually uses images (of things blowing in the wind, or of cars traveling along a road) to suggest that their dreams of fulfillment are ephemeral: sooner or later they will have to return to their humdrum lives, however unsatisfactory those lives might be. Nonetheless the film celebrates the teenagers' dreams; for a brief moment Aurora communes with her dead father as she discovers some of his old LP records; while Alejandro (Ruiz) finds the kind of deep love and companionship denied him by his family. Alicia (Rodriguez) is the unluckiest of all, as she discovers how her mother has been lying to her throughout her life about her father. Yet she learns to cope with such traumas, chiefly by association with the other two teenagers. NAVIDAD is an intense piece, composed of lengthy shots with little music to leaven the tension. However it is definitely worth watching.