When it comes to short films, sometimes you need something simple but effective to keep your attention; a short film that knows exactly what it is and aims straight for the heart. A few weeks back, I got the chance to see one of these little gems. Starring Robert Pattinson, the film is called El Faro and it is available to stream on Netflix. If you’re looking for a new distraction or your Monday night has bogged down, then I highly recommend giving El Faro a watch.
A Film About A Boat
First things first, if you are not familiar, Robert Pattinson is a British actor who gained popularity after starring in the popular vampire series, The Twilight Saga. The films in this series have made him a household name, especially in Europe. So, it should come as no great surprise that his next project is about boats. Specifically, the film is set in the Bahamas where tourists and expats come together in a beautiful yet treacherous sea on a regular basis. It’s not everyday you get to see a boat scene set in the UK, so I suppose we should thank our lucky stars that this is set in the Bahamas.
The story follows Nick Clegg (Pattinson), a professional diver who spends his time between jobs helping fishermen and underwater photographers get the best shots. When a French diver named Mathieu (Alex McDowell) starts causing trouble in the vicinity of a sunken ship, Nick takes it upon himself to sort him out. But trouble seems to follow him everywhere as he is soon surrounded by a band of French and German thugs who want what Nick has. Naturally, everyone wants what Nick has, including a beautiful woman named Eva (Berenice Bejo), who sees him as a surrogate father figure. All this adds up to one hell of a yarn that is told in a very leisurely manner. Honestly, the pacing is quite incredible considering the subject matter. Not a single scene feels under or overlong. Everything hangs together surprisingly well, especially since a large portion of the film’s runtime is spent underwater. This makes the viewer feel like they are right there with Nick, watching the water and nature slowly envelop them.
An Attractive And Engaging Lead Performance
As for the performances, they are all quite good. I suppose I should start with Mathieu, who plays the part of an arrogant, self-centered jerk rather well, for a French person. I felt that while he doesn’t really develop as a character, the viewers get to see a lot more of him than they would in a typical French film, where he might just show up at the end and give a speech, like in the movie La Fin Du Monde (The End of the World). Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just that it feels like he goes into more in-depth discussions with Nick about the nature of French people, which in turn made me care more about what happens to him. If you know French, you’ll know exactly what I mean. He’s not the typical French person, he’s something else. He seems like he’d be a lot more fun to hang out with than the average French person, which I suppose is what makes him relatable to the audience. He’s not somebody you want to cross, but at the same time, he’s not somebody you want to get on either.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about the best supporting performance of the movie. Without a doubt, it has to go to Paula Patton. As a woman who has spent most of her life in front of the camera, which in turn makes her looks very similar to a starlet, she still manages to make a very convincing, if somewhat over-the-top, American. She portrays Mathieu’s mother rather well and manages to make the role feel both funny and heartbreaking at the same time. She’s not a seasoned actor by any means, but you get the feeling that she’s having so much fun playing American that her acting is almost seamless. It would be cool to see what she could do with a leading role in a major production.
The Cinematography Is Beautiful, As Always
And then there’s the cinematography. For a brief moment, I thought that Mathieu was utilizing an iPhone on a drone to get the shots. But no, the real magic happens below the sea. The use of light and shade is superb and there are very few instances where you actually see something that is both under and above the water. Everything feels seamless and there are no rough edges along with the grainy, underwater visuals. It’s like the perfect marriage between a compelling story and beautiful photography. This is one of the things that make up for the fact that the movie clocks in at only 89 minutes. The longer the film, the more chance there is for it to drag. It doesn’t, not for a single second. Everything is exactly where it needs to be, when it needs to be there, and there are no dull moments to speak of. It’s a real trip to the sea, which is fortunate for us and our fragile ecosystem.
The Cast Is Complete
At the end of the day, El Faro is a film that is very accessible. Not only because of the subject matter, but because of the cast too. All of the actors fit snugly into their roles and while the movie doesn’t offer a lot of surprises, it still manages to entertain audiences with fresh twists and turns. Plus, there is a lot of British humor in places too. It would be cool to see the movie prove that Americans can do British humor too, not that I’m saying that Americans can’t do humor in general. Just that they might not be as good at it as the British are. There are also a few jokes that I didn’t get, which is always a bonus. Overall, it’s just a nice little film to unwind and enjoy with a few friends or family members. Just remember to keep your hands and feet inside the boat at all times. It’d be a shame to lose someone’s hand or foot because of reckless steering. Although I suppose you could make a case for it being an accident more than anything else. I did laugh out loud at a few moments in the film, so if you’re looking for a laugh, you might just find it in El Faro. And then there are those magic mushrooms. It’s always nice when movies offer a way for audiences to unwind and relax. It’s not everyday that you get to see a film where you can just sit back and zone out for an hour. Especially not one where you can identify with the main character and root for him to succeed. So, if you’re looking for something different and don’t mind a bit of British humor, then give El Faro a try.