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The Independent Critic

Dorleta Urretabizkaia, Diego Alvarez
Ruben Sainz
72 Mins.
Buffalo 8

 "Magoado" A Remarkable Debut From Ruben Sainz 

It's not often that I find myself in the post-awards season lull known as January stumbling into the year's first four-star film, but such is the case with Magoado, the remarkable debut feature from Ruben Sainz that has been picked up by indie distributor Buffalo 8 (Loving Vincent, Leave No Trace) for a February 24th streaming release in North America, UK, Australia, and Latin America. 

Magoado centers around Peio (Diego Alvarez), a reclusive fisherman hiding on the coast of Santa Catarina whose life is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of his son, Markel (Dorleta Urretabizkaia). Ill-equipped for parenting with no desire to learn, Diego must deal with this new reality even as he struggles with whether to accept or reject his son's presence. 

From the opening notes of Alvaro Turrion's astonishing original score, Magoado establishes itself as an unfathomably uncommon film with a meditative spirit and richness of humanity that mesmerizes. The story that is told here is rather simple yet told with such a quiet honesty that you can't help but surrender to it. This story is brought beautifully to life by Alvarez, whose turn here intuitive and insightful and never hits a false note. Quite simply, Alvarez blew me away. 

As Markel, Dorleta Urretabizkaia is sublime as an adolescent thrust into an unfamiliar world possessing equal parts vulnerability and interpersonal strength. It's a tremendous performance perfectly aligned alongside that of Alvarez. 

Sainz, who'd shot several short films prior to this feature debut, lenses Magoado in an exhilarating way that quietly transforms alongside these characters over the course of the film's 72-minute running time. There were moments during Magoado when I felt my jaw drop, so pristine and expressive was Sainz's lensing from beginning to end. Beautifully framed with subtle, meaningful shifts in lighting and color palette, Magoado is the kind of film I would watch again just to see Sainz's camera at work. 

Magoado is everything I want a film to be and a film that undeniably announces Ruben Sainz as a filmmaker to watch in the future. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic