THE STORY – Amid picturesque red dirt, blue sky, and green agave fields stands Dos Estaciones, a once-majestic tequila factory struggling to stay afloat. At the helm of the plant reigns Maria Garcia, heir to the family business and beacon to the townspeople she employs. To help oversee the company’s administration, Maria appoints an eager woman named Rafaela, whose vibrant presence generates much-needed hope in a home thirsty for a miracle. When a persistent plague and unexpected flood cause irreversible damage, Maria is forced to do everything she can to save her community’s source of economy and pride.
THE CAST – Teresa Sánchez, Rafaela Fuentes, Tatín Vera & Manuel García-Rulfo
THE TEAM – Juan Pablo González (Director/Writer), Ana Isabel Fernández & Ilana Coleman (Writers)
THE RUNNING TIME – 98 Minutes
By Cody Dericks
For some, a genuine work-life balance is impossible. One’s career can get so wrapped up and entangled with their personal life that it’s impossible to rend the two. Such is the case with Maria, the owner of the titular tequila factory in Juan Pablo González’s assured new drama “Dos Estaciones.” It is a character study of both of the steadfast woman at the film’s center and a look into the ripple effects that her business has on the community around her. ‘Patient’ does not even begin to describe the film’s tone, as it lightly probes into the lives of its subjects with a tranquil focus.
Maria (Teresa Sánchez) is shown to be a no-nonsense but caring businesswoman. She cares for her employees but, clearly, has her guard up most of the time. At a party, she meets a younger woman named Rafaela (Rafaela Fuentes) and, intrigued by her energy, brings her on to assist in the tequila factory’s operations and administration. Rafaela becomes something of a companion to Maria, and through her, Maria begins to share personal moments and aspects of herself. But troubles lie ahead for the struggling factory, and desperate measures may be needed to save the business.
The self-possessed performance from Sánchez proves to be the key to the film’s success. Most of the movie centers around her as she goes about her daily life, makes business decisions, and interacts with Rafaela. The screenplay is relatively light on dialogue, which means Sánchez is tasked with centering and grounding the plot with her physicality. She takes on a specific body language to convey so much of who her character truly is. At first, it may appear as if she’s choosing to be merely inexpressive. Still, Maria’s hardened outer shell must remain intact for her actions and reactions to feel understandable and believable. Sánchez is appropriately stoic and stolid in her portrayal of a woman who has been a quiet passenger on life’s voyage.
“Dos Estaciones” tells a story without much inherent action or many giant key moments in the plot. As such, González allows his gentle camera to capture the world around our central characters with grace and poise. The Mexican state of Jalisco is shot gorgeously, showing the region’s expansive mountain landscapes, fertile greenery, and wide-open skies. This is a world of beauty, and the loving way it is filmed helps encapsulate the pace of both the characters and the story. At times, it can admittedly feel like the film is stretched thin across the simple plot; the story doesn’t call for a long runtime, and even at just over 90 minutes, it can occasionally feel like it’s treading water. But even still, the deliberate, calm world of “Dos Estaciones” is quite entrancing from beginning to end.
This film shows a clear trust and bond between the director and the lead actor. Both essential talents, one behind the camera and one placed squarely in front of it, show careful attention in depicting one woman’s life facing difficult but not unbelievable decisions. “Dos Estaciones” is a story of the perseverance found in many everyday people, told with focus and affection.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – A beautiful, focused character study of a businesswoman facing difficult decisions. The director and lead actress work together with care to craft this fictional character into a believable and sympathetic person.
THE BAD – The film is “Patient” with a capital “P.” It can sometimes feel like the light plot is being stretched across the decidedly-short runtime.
THE FINAL SCORE – 6/10