Expectation can be a bitch. While I always do my best to banish all my hopes, fears and anticipations from my mind when sitting down in the cinema seat, it doesn’t always work. I picked “Dólares de Arena” because I thought that it would be a movie about what at first glance looks like an if not impossible than at least improbable love, between an old english woman and a young girl from the dominican republic – a notion that I found quite intriguing. Unfortunately, this (mis)conception couldn’t have been further away from the truth.
Now I don’t know about you, but as tolerant and open-minded that I always try to be, whenever I see a couple with a huge age gap – which, let’s not kid ourselves, usually includes and old guy and a young girl – my mind, quite unwillingly, immediately suspects that she’s only in it for the money. Then again: Love is strange, isn’t it? So what the hell do I know? Still, it would have been nice to get a movie that actually shows such a relationship, and explains to us what they see in each other. But instead of taking these misconceptions and prejudices and showing them for what they are, “Dolares de Arena” rather confirms them, ultimately revealing that yes, indeed, the young girl only was in it for the money. What a bummer. This kinda ruined the movie for me, because I expected, and hoped for, something else, and I’d argue that actually showing them as a loving couple would have been the much more daring, exciting and unusual choice.
Because I was unsure about the nature of their relationship from the beginning, I also was never emotionally involved in it, which made the movie a rather stale affair. Also, there were so many shots that seemed completely arbitrary and pointless to me. They didn’t seem to enrichen the story and/or enhance the mood, but only prolonged the movie. I also didn’t understand what the first couple of scenes, with Noeli and the guy, were there for. In my opinion, they also could have skipped or at least trimmed the scenes with Anne and her british friend, which likewise didn’t really seem to serve any purpose. I also found it weird that they bring up the story of Anne and her son multiple times, but ultimately, neglect to actually tell it. Having said that: The dynamic between the two protagonists, even though it goes in a direction that I ultimately didn’t like, was quite interesting, the scenery was breathtaking, and the acting superb (special mention has to go to Geraldine Chaplin for her vulnerable and also brave performance, but Yanet Mojica was really great too). I just wish the writer-director-pair would have made a statement against our reservations and prejudices, instead of reinforcing them.