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Review: 'Drought' tells its story simply and effectively

Everardo Gonzalez vividly shows the hard life of ranchers in a drought-stricken area of Mexico.

August 16, 2012|By Sam Adams
  • A scene from "Drought."
A scene from "Drought." (Handout )

A poetic, almost abstract portrait of impoverished ranchers waiting for rain, Everardo Gonzalez's documentary "Drought" traces the parched terrain of northern Mexico, in the communal region called Cuates de Australia.

The film provides little in the way of background or ongoing story, although a young couple's journey from prenatal ultrasound to birth provides a rough, and somewhat contrived, sense of progress.

González (who served as his own cinematographer) occasionally engages his subjects from behind the camera, but he mainly observes with an outsider's patient eye. He keeps his distance, leaving room for plenty of thoughtfully framed compositions and allowing the hush of a dried-up land to predominate.

It's lonely going after a while, but it also provides insight into the hardiness of spirit necessary to endure the region's long arid spells.

Like the men who criss-cross the rough earth with bent sticks in hand, González is dowsing, only for images instead of buried streams. Often, he finds only a trickle, but like the film's subjects, viewers come to savor each drop.

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"Drought." No MPAA rating; in Spanish with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.

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