I’ve come to the realization that I still don’t know what the title means in reference to the film. Is it Omar’s journey to Ocho Rios, the secluded ranch in Uragray? Is it Jules, the writer who shot himself on the premises? Is it his brother Adam, or his adopted son Pete, who live in quietly seclusion, yet want more for the other person? Is it Jules’ widow Caroline, who desperately wants out of Ocho Rios? Or is it Jules’ mistress, Arden, who is yearning for a new human connection?

I really don’t know. I almost don’t care.

That’s a little harsh. The film isn’t entirely without remit; it’s a film that just seems to go somewhere, but not really. It might just be the characters themselves: Omar doesn’t have much motivation to write an authorized biography about Jules, though he needs to for completing his doctorate in English. His girlfriend, Deirdre, has one personality: overbearing. The script gives her nothing other than making pushing Omar around. It’s almost like the biography is hers to write; the story works for her character, but it’s so underdeveloped that I really had no feeling or compassion for her at all, especially when we see her at the end of the movie.

The most interesting dynamic at Ocho Rios comes between Adam and Pete. Adam wants Pete to move on, having adopted him 25 years prior. Pete would rather not: he has great plans for the ranch, but his hands are tied by an unmoving Caroline. This plot does resolve itself well enough. The relationship, meanwhile, is a strange one. At first glance, I considered them to be lovers of sort (Pete laying naked to a clothed Adam in one scene suggested that), but I think there is a deeper love, extending beyond that of a conventional relationship. Pete owes everything to Adam; it’s devotional, but it’s almost quite familial as well. This is the most interesting aspect in the film.

Caroline, meanwhile, stubbornly refuses to have a biography written about Jules. She doesn’t give much of a reason – she doesn’t need to give one really – but her stubbornness is quite frustrating at times. She does hide a manuscript that Jules was working on before he killed himself, on which the contents reflected life on Ocho Rios, in a somewhat fictional way. That’s probably why she doesn’t want one, but she never explicitly states so, even after finally agreeing to allow the biography to be written.

The mistress, Arden, is almost exactly like Omar: no thought of her own, some wandering child in a field type character. She has a connection with Omar almost right away, one as a yearning for human contact, but also with a potential romance between them. There’s more between the two characters: an early conversation seems to suggest that fate drew them together. But, they’re easily the most unlikable characters in the film, simply because they have no single individual thought between them. They do eventually exhibit some sort of independence in the world (Arden decides to allow the biography to be written after originally going against it, Omar decides to confront Caroline himself over the authorization of the biography), and in each other, but by then I lost all conviction for believing in them.

The scenery was nicely shot, both inside and around Ocho Rios. The ranch felt like a jungle hideaway, with lush green trees and a crystal clear lake on the premises. The surrounding landscape, meanwhile, was a sort of underdeveloped desert, with unpaved roads and open farm lands.  A school bus runs along the road, and cattle are driven through the fields that line the road.  The two places are nicely contrasted.  The music was subtle as well, and non-intrusive.

Still, I’m not completely sold on the film, and the epilogue, which advances the film three years after the resolution, does nothing but add frustration.  Somewhat decent in parts, but on a whole, not really worth it.

C+

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