Review: Suncatcher (2021)

Courtesy of Locarno Film Festival

A girl moves, blurry and bathed in blue light. She is Lila, a girl who finds her comfort zone doesn’t extend much further than her bedroom. She dresses at first like a manga-drawn pixie girl and prefers dancing with an arcade game than at the skatepark with other girls. She prefers texting with “dreambby” than talking to people. She writes: “I have a dream, if I am reborn some day, I’ll have the sun in my mouth”. Her daydreams are science fiction; and when she ventures out she is like David Bowie in Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth. She prefers lying on her bed and gazing at the ceiling where a strange blue light seems to be trying to tell her something. 

Kim Torres’ film portrays a kind of detachment that is all too familiar, but imbues it with a wistfulness rather than any sense of criticism. There’s no dread of screen time, or even alienation. Rather there’s a recognition that being alien might be more a literal fact than a problem. When Lila emerges into the real world, she does so with the camera following her as she emerges from a concrete tube as if she’s coming from another dimension. Her inability to interact with the skaters and dancers in the park isn’t anguished and though bemused by her, they’re not hostile. She just prefers the company of her own thoughts and dreams. 

The fantasy begins to play out literally when she finds the source of the blue light, a cyborg alter-ego who does in fact seem to have the sun in her mouth. Torres, who also wrote the film, keeps her story telling fairly economical, if not stingy. But in some ways this obliqueness matches Lila’s own unwillingness to engage. In cinema, the transformation of the body into technology is usually seen as the stuff of nightmares. Look at the Tetsuo films of Shinya Tsukamoto for instance. There’s certainly a fantasy here as well, but it has heavy masochistic overtones. Here the transformation is a consummation devoutly to be wished. What was a nightmare becomes a simple desire, an acceptance of a certain fluidity.    

Courtesy of Locarno Film Festival

Original Title: Atrapaluz
International Title: Suncatcher
Runtime: 20′
Year of production: 2021
Country: Costa Rica
Director and Screenwriter: Kim Torres
Executive Producer: Alejandra VargasCarballo
Director of Photography: Mel Nocetti
Cast: Natalia Dalzell, Nello Rivero
Art Direction: Daniela Sofía Main Reyes
Sound Design: Gabriela Rivas Feoli
Editing: Clemente Castor Reyes
Composers: Sebastián Antón-Ojeda and Tomás García Agraz