Verde

By Victoria Rivera | Drama
2 sisters goof around on a summer day. Then their cousins come over and priorities change.

Emilia and Martina are two sisters who are just hanging out one hot summer day at their home in Colombia. Close to inseparable, older sister Martina at the precipice between childhood and adult life. But the pair still play and laugh together in their hermetic paradise.

But their bond is changed when some of their cousins pay them a visit, and as the whispers of a changing family dynamic arise in the background, one sister discovers that the other is changing, almost right before her eyes.

Director Victoria Rivera -- along with writer Neda Jebelli and producer Camila Zavala -- crafts a soulful, beautiful coming-of-age story about the tiny ruptures that lead to a bigger break in a close-knit relationship. With a luminous, steady sense of craft and a storytelling style attuned to silence and subtlety, this dramatic short crystallizes a small yet significant shift in one young girl's life.

Much about the film is a pleasure to watch, from the lush, verdant scenery of the film to the relationship between the sisters, which is full of warmth, trust and love. The performances of the two young actresses playing the sisters -- Samantha Medellin and Maria Elvira Ramirez -- are both naturalistic and precise, attuned to the unspoken expectations and expressions that exist between close family members.

The camerawork is equally as subtle, capturing the story with an almost documentary-style casualness. Yet this seemingly offhand style is actually very specific, attuned to the small ways and gestures of the actors and the little details of their quiet yet shifting world.

Sister Emilia is still very much a child, playing with her feet, the cushion on a sofa or with a tree, while Martina is increasingly watchful and self-conscious, observing herself closely in the mirror with narrowed eyes. When Emilia realizes that she is "left behind" in childhood by her bigger sister, the moment is quiet and yet cataclysmic, especially for a character that has no one else equally as close to turn to.

"Verde" has a unique storytelling dynamic, in that its coming-of-age narrative focuses less on "firsts" and coming together and more on saying goodbye and growing apart. By focusing the story on what is left behind by the inevitability of growing up, viewers are left with an impression of melancholy as indelible yet palpable as the indentation in the cushion left when someone gets up from next to you and walks away.

Poetic, delicate and yet without sentimentality, this is a story about a turning point -- one that happens almost imperceptibly, but has the momentous, quiet undertow of gravity.




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