“Tormentero” is a fascinating and frustrating. Directed by Mexican filmmaker Ruben Imaz we get some fantasy, some strong character work, and an opaque sense of loss. This is a difficult film to describe. It has a story, but the film is more interested in images. The film is set in a fishing village and the locations, the haunting score, and the measured performances make for a solid viewing experience even if the film leaves us puzzled.
Romero (Jose Carlos Ruiz) tries to reclaim a life that he never had. He once discovered an oil field on the water, and so now the other fishermen resent him. He is haunted by ghosts of people he doesn’t know. The film suggests that Romero might be towards the end of his life, and reflecting back on his choices. Imaz stages the film almost like a dream but it’s not exactly fantasy and neither is it reality. Imaz’s direction is surreal and precise, delivering a unique take on a somewhat familiar story.
The performances in the film are excellent but it has a bizarre ending and it is upsetting. The color of the water, the placement of the actors, the exact angles used in each scenes—are the things that are most affecting and memorable in the film. It is vague but the visuals hook us and pull us in.