2022, NR, 99 min. Directed by Juan Pablo González. Starring Teresa Sánchez, Tatín Vera, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Rafaela Fuentes.
REVIEWED By Jenny Nulf, Fri., Oct. 7, 2022
For years it feels like the upcoming tequila shortage has been whispered about. But with so many celebrities announcing their own tequila brands, sometimes it’s hard to grasp the dire situation many tequila plants are facing. Juan Pablo González’s film Dos Estaciones centers around this very real crisis, a subtle reflection on the political and environmental pressures Mexican-owned tequila factories are facing.
Teresa Sánchez stars as María García, whose grand tequila factory – the pride of her life and the heart of the town that she deeply cares for – has begun to financially crumble before her eyes. Although fiction, González’s film is so immersive, at times it feels like a documentary, often evoking a cinema verité approach to many of his frames. He directs cinematographer Gerardo Guerra to capture his characters through doorways, perfectly framed like portraits, creeping into private moments and naturally pulling you into the story, as if you were watching the moments unfold in the room adjacent to you. The closeness González creates to his characters is rich, while also keeping his direction understated and effortless-seeming.
There’s a delicate emphasis on nature throughout Dos Estaciones, via wide shots of fields that nearly swallow María whole and engrossing sound editing that emphasizes the chirping of bugs, the crisp sound of a light breeze, and the crackling of fire. María’s livelihood relies on nature, and throughout the film she is at odds with it, from the plague that threatens the health of her agave plants to the flooding that damages her factory. Nature is just as powerful a force as the foreign companies that lurk just along the horizon, the ones that are eating up local businesses like her own. Although never seen on screen, their presence haunts María and the town at large, a whisper of their presence that feels increasingly sinister.
The journey of Dos Estaciones is slow-paced, like the lifestyle of the town María presides over. However, there’s never a sense that María is in any way looming her wealth over the town; rather, her success has given the people of the small town a chance to thrive. Toward the second half, González walks off María’s path to follow her hairdresser Tatín (Tatín Vera), whose professional and personal life are thriving. It’s a narrative derailing that makes a point – that even without the presence of the tequila factory, the people of the town won’t decay in its absence.
Dos Estaciones is bookended with the camera following María from behind, an immense weight on her back as she works hard to keep the kingdom she built intact. There’s a heaviness to it, but also there’s hope. María does not give up lightly, and will continue to face her demons to fight for the factory she believes in.