You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Water at the End of the World

Pic creates a warm drama of real emotions without milking tears.

With: Guadalupe Docampo, Diana Lamas, Facundo Arana, Graciela Stefani, Mario Alarcon, Antonio Ugo, Mauricio Dayub.

Potted synopses can be misleading, especially in the case of “The Water at the End of the World,” since any summary would sound melodramatic. When one sister becomes terminally ill, the other promises to carry out her last wish and take her on a trip to Tierra del Fuego. Adding an alcoholic accordionist to the mix doesn’t bode well in the telling, yet helmer Paula Siero dodges almost all pitfalls and creates a warm drama of real emotions without milking tears. This surprisingly winning debut will need careful marketing but could prove popular on the fest circuit.

Sisters Laura (Guadalupe Docampo) and Adriana (Diana Lamas), both in their 20s, have a close relationship and live together in a small, slightly dingy apartment in Buenos Aires. When Adriana’s inoperable illness gets worse, she presses Laura to fulfill a previous agreement: They would go to Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Argentina, for her to die. However, the sisters barely have any money, and Laura’s work at a pizzeria doesn’t bring in enough dough for the journey.

Adriana, frightened yet determined, won’t accept any delay, but Laura starts to despair when her boss, Mauro (Mario Alarcon), cuts her salary. The only person holding her together is Martin (Facundo Arana), a homeless accordion player with a drinking problem. Together, Laura and Martin scheme to find the cash so Adriana’s wish can come true.

Siero makes several well-considered artistic choices that allow her to transform what sounds like a standard sudser into a distinctive, heartfelt story. She’s stripped everything down to basics, keeping embellishments to a minimum, yet is careful not to make the sisters’ world too hermetic. Wisely, she steers clear of any whiff of noble suffering — Adriana is bullishly determined and places a harsh burden on Laura. The character is sympathetic not because she’s dying, but because she’s tough, flawed and real. Melancholy is kept at a distance, yet wistful smiles of sadness are effortlessly evoked in the viewer, with several terrific lines adding just the right touch of humor.

Perhaps it’s Siero’s background as an actress that makes her so skilled at handling her thesps, who evince a sisterly rapport that likely comes from long rehearsals and a natural bond. Docampo and Lamas are completely at ease with each other and their environment, thoroughly up to the challenges posed by frequent closeups and a mobile, observational camera that’s never far from their side.

The Water at the End of the World


Production: A Magma Cine production. (International sales: Primer Plano Film Group, Buenos Aires.) Executive producers, Juan Pablo Gugliotta, Nathalia Videla Pena. Directed by Paula Siero. Screenplay, Siero, Nora Mazzitelli.

Crew: Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Daniel Ortega; editor, Leandro Aste; music, Chango Spasiuk; production designer, Julieta Dolinsky; costume designer, Lucia Sciannamea; sound, Martin Grignaschi, Federico Billordo; assistant director, Mariano Turek. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (Bright Future), Jan. 31, 2011. Running time: 85 MIN.

With: With: Guadalupe Docampo, Diana Lamas, Facundo Arana, Graciela Stefani, Mario Alarcon, Antonio Ugo, Mauricio Dayub.

More Film

  • My Dear Friend

    Shanghai Film Review: 'My Dear Friend'

    Like a slow-acting hallucinogen, Chinese director Yang Pingdao’s audaciously strange and sorrowful feature debut works its magic so gradually that it’s with a slight surprise that halfway through you glance down and realize you’re high off the social-realist ground, suspended surreally in the air. At first a gritty tale of feckless men abandoning their families [...]

  • Agent M (Tessa Thompson) and Agent

    Box Office: 'Men in Black: International' Ranks No. 1 Overseas With $74 Million

    Sony’s “Men in Black: International” is making good on its title, leading overseas box office charts with $74 million from 56 foreign territories. Combined with its disappointing $28 million start in North America, the latest chapter in the sci-fi action series debuted with $102.2 million globally. “Men in Black: International” sees “Thor: Ragnarok” co-stars Tessa [...]

  • Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) and Agent

    'Men in Black: International' Leads Box Office With Muted $28 Million

    Hollywood seems to be coming down with a contagious case of franchise fatigue this summer, as “Men in Black: International” and “Shaft” become the latest sequels largely dismissed by moviegoers in North America. Sony’s “Men in Black: International” led ticket sales at the box office this weekend with $28.5 million, but still fell short of [...]

  • International Film Festival and Awards Macao

    Macao Festival Signs Double Deals With Shanghai

    The International Film Festival & Awards Macao on Sunday signed twin agreements with institutions in Shanghai. The IFFAM, which is building towards its fourth edition in December, struck a collaboration agreement with the Shanghai International Film Festival. Separately, it is solidifying an existing informal arrangement with the Shanghai Film Art Academy concerning an exchange of [...]

  • wanda Movie Metropolis Qingdao

    Why Simon West Is Making Movies in China (EXCLUSIVE)

    British director Simon West (“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” “Con Air,” “The Expendables 2”) is set to dive further into the Middle Kingdom at the helm of his second Chinese action-adventure blockbuster. The Wanda-backed “The Legend Hunters,” hits theaters next summer. West was brought onto the project by veteran producer Eryong, who had approached him about [...]

  • The Eight Hundred

    Chinese Research Group May Have Caused Cancellation of 'The Eight Hundred' Premiere

    Chinese authorities may have abruptly yanked the $80 million patriotic war epic “The Eight Hundred” the day before its opening-night premiere at the Shanghai Intl. Film Festival because it didn’t portray rivals of the ruling Communist Party in a sufficiently negative light, local reports said. Huayi Bros., which produced the film, had on Friday attributed [...]

  • Simon West

    Simon West Directing Chinese Tomb-Raid Movie 'Legend Hunters' (EXCLUSIVE)

    British director Simon West, who made the Angelina Jolie-starring “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” is now co-directing a Chinese tomb-raiding film. “The Legend Hunters” is the next installment in the “Mojin” universe, based on the popular fantasy novel series “Ghost Blows Out the Light.” Backed by Wanda Pictures and Beijing-based Saints Entertainment, the film is set [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content