Matria (2023) Berlinale 2023

February 21st, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Alvaro Gago | Spain, drama. 99′

The Spanish coastal region of Galicia is viewed as a rain-swept, hostile place and very much a character in this feature debut from Alvaro Gago whose heroine, a single mother in her forties, is beset by difficulties not of her own making but determined to prevail against the odds in the fishing town of Vilanova de Arousa, near Pontevedra.

Gago bases his story on his 2018 award-winning short film that sees the plucky, mercurial yet vulnerable Ramona (Vazquez) holding down two jobs, one as a cleaner, the other aboard a mussel dredger, while her partner Andres (Santi Prego) is a typical loser who spends the days drinking and complaining. Her daughter Estrella (Luaces), from a previous relationship, has already left her home and her studies to pursue a relationship which seems equally destructive.

A disagreement over pay in her cleaning job sends Ramona packing but she soon settles down into a ‘modus vivendi’ as carer for a grumpy old widow Xose (E.R. Cunha “Tatán”) who is stuck in his ways but offers her a semblance of normality. Ramona’s vulnerability and her self-destructive tendency to blow a fuse and then get back on track is the crucial plot point in this engaging Galician-language character study with its inevitable nods to contemporary consumer bleats and the ills of capitalism. MT





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