Set on Costa Rica’s beautiful coastline, Paz Fabrega’s Cold Water Of The Sea is a lovingly paced study of two girls’ parallel lives and the way they intersect for a few odd and revelatory days. One girl, Mariana, is wealthy, wed and locked in an isolating world of privilege. The other, Karina, is a precocious seven-year-old testing the bounds of her small, impoverished world. Both have families that no longer fill their lives, and both find a strange common bond in their loneliness and separate developments.

Sea snakes boil on the sands, neglected pools sit idle, hotel sheets lie unused and children dig in the beaches with glee and little concern for danger. Moment to moment, this world alternates between beautifully flat and taut with tension.

The visual universe Fabrega sets up is both perilous and totally banal from shot to shot. While the film is uncommonly beautiful in its depictions of breathtaking landscape, the focus remains on the two females, of wildly different ages and coming from different social backgrounds, and the inherent difficulties in their own worlds. This unsettling rhythm creates a mesmerizing effect and Cold Water of the Sea achieves a resonant place as one of the fine mysteries of 2010 cinema.

Calgary International Film Festival