Saturday, 24 September 2016


Lorenzo Vigas explores the details of distance - physical, emotional, psychological - in From Afar, an ironically intimate insight into the lives of those whose own insight is stymied by society. Simmering underneath the film is the constant, oppressive drive of a societal machine that seeks to discard those for whom it has no particular use; bubbling to the surface are the painful results of such a process, as embodied by dislocated souls, as distant as they can possibly be from one another, yet connected by this common trait. Vigas observes his characters as though longing to connect with them himself, studying them for some sign of trust, a gesture or an action that might betray the thoughts and feelings to which they dare not admit. Under immense pressure, they relent, and From Afar thus builds a beautiful portrait of its characters in revealing both what they choose to reveal, and what they choose not to, yet cannot keep within. Enigmatic and sometimes narratively improbable, the film projects a great depth of empathy, triggered by the viewer's own empathetic tenure to its protagonists; Alfredo Castro and Luis Silva's sensitive performances provide an ideal inroad for us, in spite of (or perhaps due to) their roles' reticence toward openness and honesty. Vigas' exploration of distance is outstanding in its breadth and in his appreciation of how to realize it both thematically and formally. However, he lets himself down by employing a style that doesn't feel fully authentic, a kind of banal amalgamation of the outlooks of too many similar arthouse auteurs. He has tremendous talent himself, and ought to nurture it further, to a highly promising future in filmmaking.