TRAILER: An Alcoholic Suegra Drops in on a Couple’s Vacation in Dominga Sotomayor’s Newest ‘Mar’

What better way to spice up a beachside couple’s vacation than with a visit from a loudmouthed, alcoholic suegra? Admittedly, in real life I wouldn’t personally recommend it, but it could certainly lend a little flavor to a film script, which is exactly the case with Chilean director Dominga Sotomayor’s latest cinematic offering, Mar.

Sotomayor first made waves back in 2012 with De Jueves a Domingo (Thursday Til Sunday), an unapologetically feminine vision of relationships and family dynamics played out over the course of a weekend road trip to the dry northern deserts of Chile. The film picked up a Tiger Award at that year’s edition of the Rotterdam Film Festival before going on to premiere at illustrious festivals across the world. Of course, following up a smash hit debut is never easy, and with Mar Sotomayor has apparently responded to pressure by taking a more experimental, improvisational approach.

Shot over eight days with a minimal budget and virtually no script, Mar follows a young couple who take a broken down car to Argentina’s Villa Gesell beach where they shack up for a short vacation only to end up bickering nearly the whole time. With the timely introduction of the aforementioned suegra, both mother and girlfriend find themselves vying for their man’s attention, and things get increasingly tense. Along the way, death rears its ugly head when a dramatic thunderstorm takes the lives of several tourists.

Judging from the trailer, Mar’s improvisational spirit is evident in the sometimes shaky, imperfect camerawork and muddy interior lighting, none of which takes away from Sotomayor’s impeccable sense of framing and actorly timing. As we are faced with a series of more or less banal images in which very little happens, we also get a sense of the narrative’s free-form, anti-dramatic style.

While in one sense, Mar seems to solidify Sotomayor’s fascination for interpersonal conflicts and short holidays, without a doubt her approach has changed considerably from one film to the next, and she has shown herself unafraid to dive into less comfortable and more experimental territory.

Mar had its world premiere in Berlin’s avant-garde “Forum” sidebar last week.