A year after the mysterious disappearance of their son, Greta (Mara Bestelli) and Bruno (Marcelo Subiotto) have resigned to selling their home in a rural coast town and leaving the past behind them. Joining them in preparation for the move is Greta’s childhood friend, Sina (Maricel Álvarez), an outsider from the city. Sina is the strong force needed to support Greta to move on emotionally during the transition period. Upon arrival, Sina and Greta soon realize that the weight of losing a child is too much for Bruno to bear as he continues to claim that their son is still out there, waiting in the woods or speaking to him.

On its surface, Dusk Stone offers an intimate look into the grieving of two parents. From its whimsical and mysterious score, to its raw yet cold cinematography, director Iván Fund put together a film that is technically pleasing to enjoy.

Where this film stumbles though is in its editing and overall story. All throughout the first act, the plot seemed fairly clear. Young, imaginative boy is growing up in a coastal town that nurses a local tale about a sea creature that has awakened due to the arrival of a new, what appears to be, oil platform in the town. Boy goes missing, presumed dead, after sneaking out to find said creature and parents are left grieving for their loss. It’s once Sina arrives to the town that the plot and storytelling begin to become too wrapped up on itself to be as enjoyable a watch as the start. All throughout, the local legend of this sea creature is constantly brought up yet very little is explained about it. Thrown through time jumps and long periods of exposition, I found myself wondering what the point of it was and how it fit into the overall narrative. Was this creature meant to be a metaphor for the grief of losing a child? Or was it birthed to operate more as a tool to give this film a more mysterious tone? I’m not sure and this was the most frustrating thing for me as there was a good idea here to begin with.

That being said, the film isn’t unwatchable. As soon as it began and the opening music came to life, I was sold. I really did feel like I was about to watch a gripping mystery – very similar to how movies of the 80’s or 90’s would open. Similarly, the acting by our three main leads were also spot on and really held this film together, especially Mara Bestelli. So I was disappointed when the rest of the film didn’t match the tone that was set right off the bat.

If I were to summarize the viewing experience of Dusk Stone it would be: I’m not mad, I’m disappointed. I was promised so much at the beginning and yet was given something that was completely different at the end. Others may find more reconciliation with the ending than I did but by then, I was a bit too annoyed to care, as unfortunate as that is.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewed on September 7, 2021 – La Biennale di Venezia (screener provided by publicist). Rating: TBC. Running time: 87 min.

PRODUCTION: A Rita Cine, Insomnia Films, Globo Rojo Films and Nephilim Producciones production. With support by INCAA. Producers: Laura Mara Tablón and Catalina Vergara.

CREW: Director: Iván Fund. Writers: Martín Felipe Castagnet, Iván Fund, and Santiago Loza. Editing: Iván Fund and Lorena Moriconi. Music: Francisco Cerda. Cinematography: Gustavo Schiaffino.

CAST: Mara Bestelli, Alfredo Castro, Jeremias Kuharo, Marcelo Subiotto, and Maricel Álvarez.

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