Argentina, in the middle of nowhere. A young woman (Sofia Palomino) is looking for her sister who disappeared. She is determined to leave no stone unturned, no path and possibility unexamined to find her. But she seems to be getting nowhere with her search – all she achieves is becoming more and more lost herself.
Una hermana is a slow film that keeps turning in circles. Even if that was its intention, it made it hard to watch and often simply boring. While I could get into it for stretches at a time, it didn’t quite come together for me.
The protagonist in the film is very much trapped. She’s trapped by her disappeared sister, by her family in general, by poverty, the small village she lives in, and the marches that surround them all. In all of this, she tries her best to achieve things and to not give up, no matter that nobody else seems to care about her determination.
The film shows this in calm images and all the shades of brown. Every once in a while the slow pace hits its rhythm and then its easy to let yourself be pulled under. But it’s a litte too uneven to keep this up througout the entire film. Instead the dreariness starts to wear you down and I, for one, didn’t manage to keep up with the protagonist’s fearsome will to power through. Instead I found myself bored most of the time.
And then the film starts to get interesting. It made me sit up and pay closer attention to the events on screen again, starting to try to puzzle out what happened and what is happening. And just as I felt that I was getting somewhere, the film ends.
That frustration could possibly be an intended effect. Just as for the protagonist, things are left unclear and the only option to get more clarity is to go over what happened again and try to see something that we didn’t see before. But contrary to the protagonist and her sister, I just never felt connected enough to the film, its story and characters to be tempted to actually do that. Instead I was glad when I didn’t have to think about it anymore and could turn the TV off.