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Lighthouse of the Orcas Review

The Lighthouse of the Orcas follows the story of a mother, Lola, and her autistic son, Tristán, who travel from Spain to Patagonia in search of an emotional connection and orcas.

It is an emotive story that highlights issues of family and the obstacles of autism. The audience is able to see how Tristán observes and interacts with the world around him. With his habit of organising everything around him, especially lining pens and clips up very methodically, and his intense interest in a box in the cabin of Beto, the park ranger.

The main thing the story focuses on about Tristan is his emotional distance from the world. He doesn’t talk much, he hangs back, he doesn’t play with other children, and he shows emotion in his own way. Tristán goes from sitting calmly to rocking and hitting himself when stressed or scared, after being taken out of his comfort zone. Most of his happy moments come from when he is watching the orcas, and he displays his happiness in his own way, which is by twinkling his fingers.

The town is so remote that they seem to have very little awareness about autism. This is especially true with the other children when they try and get Tristán to play with them and he either shuts down or gets overwhelmed. You see his mother helping him through his moments of distress, and she explains the situation to others who don’t understand. Her education pays off though and you see various characters come to understand Tristán and bond with him.

Lola, Maribel Verdú, is very protective of her son and knows exactly how to help him when he needs it. When the two arrive at the cabin of Beto, there is a storm and it scares Tristán and she calms him down by putting his hands under a running tap.

Joaquín Rapalini is outstanding as Tristán, and you can feel all the other characters compassion and relationships with him. He really makes the audience care about his character.

The cinematography is breathtaking. With beautiful angles and paced panning shots of the spectacular scenery, it paints a picture of how remote the area is and how that impacts the story and the characters.

The movie even features the unusual hunting habits of an Orca pod in Argentina, which involves the whales launching themselves on the beach to prey on young sea lions in the shallow water.

Parts of the storyline seem rushed, as if they wanted the plot to get somewhere while not wanting to wait. This is the most evident in the predictable love story between Lola and Beto. You can see where it is going to go as soon as the characters meet. Predictable love stories are not always a problem, if the connection is there. But they do not make a strong enough connection before they hit their first relationship hurdle.

Overall it’s a good movie if you enjoy a slower movie that’s more character driven with amazing cinematography and don’t mind reading subtitles. It is worth noting that autism is not exactly the same for every individual, and this story doesn’t necessarily depict every person’s experience.

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