A Meditation On Non-Linear Time Hiding Inside A Touching Household Drama


  • Tótem makes use of intimate digital camera work to check the actors, capturing their feelings and making a child-like perspective.
  • The movie explores the dynamics of a household gathering, highlighting how every member copes with a liked one’s impending dying in their very own method.
  • Time is a central theme in Tótem, portrayed as a spiral in Mesoamerican civilizations, and the movie examines how trauma and grief can form future generations.



With the opening scene of Tótem, a prologue of types, writer-director Lila Avilés subtly teaches us easy methods to watch her movie. Seven-year-old Sol (Naíma Sentíes) and her mom Lucía (Iazua Larios) are in a public restroom, working towards a tune they will carry out at a celebration that night. Sol takes so lengthy on the bathroom that Lucía resorts to peeing within the sink, sending her daughter right into a match of giggles. It is a loving, personal second, and the digital camera is intimate with them, mainly of their faces.

Within the automobile afterward, Sol insists they maintain their breath and make a want as they cross beneath a bridge. Lucía playfully indulges her, even saying, as soon as they’ve exhaled, that her dream will certainly come true. However when Sol says she needs her father will not die, her mom’s face falls. The stakes are clear now; regardless of Sol’s colourful clown wig and the balloons behind them, this event isn’t purely joyous. The younger lady’s perception in issues like needs might not survive the evening.

Directed by Lila Avilés, Totem is a 2023 Drama movie that follows a younger lady named Sol who spends a day together with her grandfather. Sol, anticipating to have fun her grandfather’s birthday, quickly learns as evening falls that he could also be passing shortly, leaving her to bear witness to the emotional turbulence of grief and acceptance by means of her household.

Tótem‘s digital camera is all the time finding out the actors, exploratory and intrusive within the method of a kid’s perceptive gaze.

To Get The Most Out Of Tótem, Pay Shut Consideration

From there, we all know how finest to concentrate. Avilés hid a contact of foreboding of their dialogue, revealing that their tune, which a girl head over heels in love sings to the heavens, is a part of a narrative that sees her suitor come to hurt. That reference to legend and Sol’s invocation of superstition swirl along with the in any other case mundane, familial scene, and when the tone immediately turns sullen, that feeling lodges in your abdomen. New parts will probably be added to that combination, even in strains that appear tossed off, and the extra carefully we pay attention, the higher we perceive.

Sol and Lucía’s early emphasis on efficiency can be instructive. Tótem‘s digital camera is all the time finding out the actors, exploratory and intrusive within the method of a kid’s perceptive gaze, however the prologue’s emotional shift lets us know the characters are performing, too, particularly round Sol. Household and mates are gathering for her father Tona’s (Mateo García Elizondo) birthday, however he’s very sick with most cancers. There is a prevailing sense this journey across the solar might have been his final. How and when his family members present their emotions is likely one of the film’s major pursuits, and due to some savvy filmmaking, certainly one of ours as effectively.

Whereas it is on, the movie feels so grounded on this second with these folks, however its scope will get increasingly sprawling because it decants.

As soon as Sol arrives on the household residence, extra nuanced dynamics come into play, and Avilés is all the time giving us new items of the puzzle. Not everyone seems to be behind this occasion: Aunt Alejandra (Marisol Gasé) is the driving pressure, and a few even consider it comes at Tona’s expense. Aunt Nuri (Montserrat Marañón), whose consideration is all the time partially on her younger daughter Esther (Saori Gurza), is overwhelmed by all of it. Sol’s grandfather (Alberto Amador) strongly objects, whereas Uncle Napo (Juan Francisco Maldonado) appears to only glide.

Every is processing Tona’s sickness in their very own method. Alejandra leans non secular, bringing somebody in to cleanse the home of evil presences, however she can be essentially the most targeted on the not possible expense of Tona’s care. Nuri pushes for extra scientific intervention, and appears the least accepting of his approaching dying. Napo takes a New Age view, getting into the film midway by means of as a result of he was set on getting natural meals and having everybody collectively meditate on his brother’s therapeutic. These all distinction with scenes of Tona with Cruz (Teresita Sánchez), his carer and Tótem‘s most empathetic presence, that floor his well being in medical actuality.

In Tótem, Time Secretly Shapes Every part

Sol and her mother in the car with balloons behind them in Tótem
Naíma Sentíes and Iazua Larios in Tótem

Add to those the overwhelming presence of animal life, artwork (Tona is a gifted painter), and the introduction by occasion friends of Indigenous heritage, understanding non-linear space-time, and this household residence appears to comprise your complete world. Whereas it is on, the movie feels so grounded on this second with these folks, however its scope will get increasingly sprawling because it decants. To account for all the things that registers as significant or is deserving of important discover would require extra space than I’ve right here.

However time is price dwelling on. For Mesoamerican civilizations, we’re advised, it may be regarded as a spiral — each new level on the timeline looks like a cyclical return, and vice versa. A birthday, say, is similar yearly, and but no two are precisely alike. This concept is central to Tótem, Mexico’s choice for the 96th Academy Awards. Sol’s grandmother died of most cancers years in the past, in the exact same room Tona presently occupies. It is doable to learn his and his siblings’ selections as pushed by their want to make one thing about it, no matter has caught with them, totally different this time.

And never solely totally different for themselves. This can be Sol’s first time grappling with a mum or dad’s probably dying, however from her household’s perspective, the identical trauma is reappearing in a brand new technology. As we see how their scars formed their habits, we’re led to surprise how she’s going to come away from this modified. I might argue the film’s ending gives us a solution, but when not that, then definitely a want to know in that method. That feeling has motivated me to maintain poring over Tótem, and anybody who sees it will do effectively to not let it go too shortly.

Tótem opens begins a restricted theatrical launch in New York on January 26 and in Los Angeles on February 2. The movie is 95 minutes lengthy and is presently unrated.


Lila Avilés

Naíma Sentíes , Monserrat Marañon , Marisol Gasé , Saori Gurza

95 Minutes

Lila Avilés

Limerencia Movies , Laterna Movie , Paloma Productions

Alpha Violet

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