IFFR Review: Aurora

DIRECTED BY: Paz Fábrega

STARRING: Rebeca Woodbridge, Raquel Villalobos and Erika Rojas

 

SYNOPSIS

Architect and children workshop worker Luisa Bader helps seventeen-year-old Yuliana when she discovers that she’s pregnant and maps out what to do about it. 

Aurora focuses on forty-year-old Luisa Bader, who works as an architect and giving inspirational creative workshops to children. One day she comes across seventeen-year-old Yuliana in the school toilets being sick, and they discover that she has unintentionally become pregnant.

Aurora is a drama written and directed by Paz Fábrega. The film focuses on Luisa Bader, an architect and teacher of a children’s creative workshop in the local area, who one day happens to encounter Yuliana, whose being sick in the school bathroom. Luisa takes her to a doctor when they learn that unbeknownst to Yuliana, she is twenty-one weeks pregnant. With abortion illegal in Costa Rica, Yuliana is terrified about what to do next, to which Luisa decides to help her, in the process manoeuvring herself into a difficult position somewhere between friend, teacher and mother figure…or does she secretly enjoy this role?

 

This is my first experience watching a Paz Fábrega film, whose previously won the Tiger Award at IFFT back in 2010 for her directorial feature debut Agua fria de mar (Cold Water of the Sea). From the opening scene to the end credits, you can’t help but feel that Luisa Bader is somewhat of an enigma. She juggles her life between two jobs, one working on site as an architect and also work as an art teacher for young to teenage children. It’s a matter of when she takes Yuliana to an obstetrician she knows to see whether she’s pregnant or not that she automatically inserts herself into the young girls life. But why? You begin to question Luisa’s reasoning for doing what she’s doing? Did she go through something similar at Yuliana’s age? Or has she seen too much of teenagers becoming parents early and losing an education that she feels compelled to intervene?

 

Paz Fábrega has a great attention to detail in how she handles the main actresses, Rebeca Woodbridge and Raquel Villalobos (acting debuts according to IMDB), and making the film flow as naturally and ordinary as possible. The scenes that stand out are when the characters are conversing with each other and how Fábrega frames in mid-shot and the way the natural light is captured for these scenes make the film beautiful at times to look at, though granted in the wide shots at times it felt that there was a dull tinge to it. Rebeca Woodbridge gets a good performance as Luisa, like I said, an enigma I couldn’t care figure out but she was an interesting character to watch and her chemistry with Raquel Villalobos was intriguing to watch especially with the dialogue they have together talking about life, the past and the future. Raquel Villalobos gives a really good performance as Yuliana, who we see gradually grow during the course of the film trying to decipher what she wants for herself but it’s that fear of what’s expected and the unknown that keeps haunting her during the course of the pregnancy. While the film is only an hour and a half long, there didn’t feel enough of a story to keep me invested throughout the entire runtime, a lot of it is based on subtly and understatement in how the narrative is handled that I couldn’t quite engage with it on an emotional level, and while I had so many question’s about Luisa’s involvement with Yuliana, the film doesn’t go out of its way to give you an answer and by the time the credits rolled I didn’t feel compelled to know why either.

 

VERDICT

While Aurora has a naturalist approach with the storytelling and good performances from Rebeca Woodbridge and Raquel Villalobos, I felt disconnected from being invested overall.

 

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