This will make you want to buy a cabana in Baja, but maybe not save fish.
DIRECTED BY THOMAS RIEDELSHEIMER (Mexico, Next)
Saturday, April 28, 4 p.m.
ROM Theatre (100 Bloor Street West)
Sunday, April 29, 9:30 p.m.
Innis Town Hall (2 Sussex Avenue)
Sunday, May 6, 4 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 4 (350 King Street West)
Garden in the Sea has grand ambitions, one of them being to stand as a testament to the almost paralyzing beauty of Baja California Sur, Mexico. But it also strives to articulate the need for the preservation of marine life, and to speak to how art can embody the mystical and ephemeral in the natural world.
Phew. These dizzying aspirations, untethered to any solid plot line or character, rarely reach fruition. The narrative follows Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias over four years as she plans and oversees the creation of a submerged sculpture. It’s no piece of cake to sink three massive forms into the Sea of Cortez, but, unfortunately, watching concrete being shaped and transported isn’t that interesting. This frenetic activity is interspersed with meditative footage and stills of the Baja area. The footage is stunning—it’s nature porn at its best.
Iglesias’ banter tries to tie the sweeping shots back to her art’s purpose. Gliding elegantly from scene to scene, she speaks enigmatically. (“It’s like…in that immensity and solitude you understand the scale and dimension of humans and of time. It’s humbling.”) She’s fascinating to watch, but, ultimately, we’re offered little beyond her grandiose statements. The film ends on a similar note, pleading with the viewer to personally connect with the fight to protect marine life. A worthy cause, but why exactly do we care? This is a two-star doc sitting on an extra star’s worth of pretty, pretty footage.