Director(s): Francisca Alegria
Writer(s): Francisca Alegria, Manuela Infante, Fernanda Urrejola
Cast: Mía Maestro, Enzo Ferrada Rosati, Benjamin Soto
After Cecilia’s (Leonor Varela) father has a heart attack, her and her family travel to her childhood farm to help take care for the time being. While on the farm, the family is met by Magdalena (Mía Maestro), the deceased mother of Cecilia.
Director Francisca Alegria tells a ghost story in one of the most sorrowful of ways. When Magdalena first appears from the river, the ties between nature and living are made prominent. Alegria is able to capture nature in a beautiful way that causes nature itself to become a living breathing character throughout the film. Told mainly through visuals and music, the direction was key in the film. Many characters have few lines of dialogue, especially Magdalena who doesn’t ever say much throughout the movie, but the actions make up for it. There are a lot of themes throughout this film, and it is primarily led by what it is trying to say visually more than what it is trying to say auditory.
In doing this, it causes this film to be ambitious in the points it is trying to get across, and there are times where not all of the themes fully land, at least not with me. I definitely think people who are more accustomed to the culture might be able to pick up on more of the metaphors throughout the film.
But the themes I could easily recognized stuck with me in a really strong way. This is a film about finding yourself and about how to deal with unforeseen circumstances. The grief and the pain with losing someone who is close to you mixed in with the longing to be at peace. There was a back and forth between Magdalena and her family that clashed in what each side wanted. To truly be at peace, they had to repent their mistakes and come to terms with the way their lives were. There was no more fighting, just acceptance. The ending of this film was moving, in a way I wasn’t expecting.
The strongest performance in this film was from Mía Maestro as Magdalena. When she arrives back into the world after death she attempts to rekindle a relationship with her family. She is shut down by her husband and daughter, and she is hidden by her mother. She then decides to see if she can live another life, but ultimately knows there is only one she can accept. Maestro beautifully expresses so much pain and suffering without saying many words. She is seemingly given a second chance, and instead of using this to make other people happy, she finds peace herself. It was a moving and subtle performance.
The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future is a touching look at grief and acceptance. Francisca Alegria is able to effectively capture nature in a way of making it a character all its own. This is a very intimate film filled with magical realism and sensitive poetic performances.
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.