On the slopes of an active volcano in Guatemala, a marriage is arranged for seventeen-year-old María by her Kaqchikel parents.On the slopes of an active volcano in Guatemala, a marriage is arranged for seventeen-year-old María by her Kaqchikel parents.On the slopes of an active volcano in Guatemala, a marriage is arranged for seventeen-year-old María by her Kaqchikel parents.
It's clear early on that we're being plunged into a world without the luxury of pretense, where eating pork doesn't mean going in to the air-conditioned market and buying a neatly packaged cut of bloodless pink meat, and living with one's parents doesn't mean being able to pretend they don't have sex, since everyone sleeps in the same room. In this world coffee beans are tediously picked by hand, and workers (who speak indigenous Kaqchikel) are exploited by owners (who also speak the language of the ruling class, Spanish). The owners know that the laborers have few opportunities, and also run a bar where the workers might run up an alcohol tab that erases the earnings they receive from a careful weighing of the beans they've picked. All of this is so that affluent people in far-off lands like America can sip a gourmet brew, made to order by a person with a college degree in English Lit and getting a paltry minimum wage, but I digress.
The daughter (the soulful María Mercedes Coroy) has been betrothed to her father's boss, the foreman of the plantation, a situation that might improve her family's situation. Unfortunately she's more attracted to a field worker who dreams of running away to America to escape the poverty of his life in Guatemala, and drinks to excess maybe to escape it in another way. The way the parents (María Telón and Manuel Manuel Antún) support the daughter is amazing, despite the decisions she makes which have disastrous consequences. The mother-daughter bond is truly special and seems eternal, and I imagined it representing a link which must stretch back generations upon generations into the past. It was also pretty cool to see the father not erupt into anger, instead calmly accepting what happened as if a weather conditions had caused a bad crop one year. Nothing is romanticized here, but the film shows the family bond and perseverance in the face of a hard life, starting with accepting each other.
- Jun 19, 2020