DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

The Fisherman’s Daughter (La Estrategia del Mero)

A trans woman returns to the Caribbean island from which she escaped, in a compassionate movie about acceptance - from the First Feature Competition of the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

QUICK AND DIRTY: LIVE FROM TALLINN

Miguel is a young fisherman who regularly goes to an island in the middle of the Caribbean for nets. Directed by one of the older men to grab material from “Samuel’s house”, Miguel jumps through the window and rifles through the brandy cupboard for some refreshment. Thinking the house is empty, he wanders around the place, and is startled by the presence of a person he doesn’t recognise. “Are you a man or a woman?” he gingerly asks. “That’s very direct,” Priscila giggles in response.

As it happens, Priscila is Samuel’s daughter, although the parent refers to her as “Samuelito.” Priscila has returned to the island for reasons she refuses to disclose, and is subjected to direct and indirect abuse from Samuel. Upset by the identity Priscila has chosen, Samuel has given her an ultimatum: Stay hidden from the superstitious fishermen, or find another home. Samuel’s brother is more understanding – surely a few weeks at sea will cure this “faggot” business once and for all? But the more time Priscila spends with her father, the more she realises the anger stems from the years he spent isolated on this island, while Priscila enjoyed a more colourful life elsewhere with her mother.

Frustratingly for Priscila, the majority of characters in the film are unable to distinguish between sexuality and gender identity. And so they see Priscila as a . The only person who sees Priscilla as a woman is Priscila herself, and at no point does any other character refer to her by her chosen pronouns. What’s worse, Priscila rarely corrects her father or uncle on their language, and seems more upset by their aversion to her taste in men, as opposed to her gender truth. Which is more the pity, because there’s an undeniable tenderness between Samuel and Priscila, which grows stronger the longer the film goes on for. In an almost tantric moment of truth, Priscila shows her father the scars she has received defending herself from policemen, who are too afraid to touch her in case they get infected with HIV. Mercifully, Priscila doesn’t have the illness.

The most impressive scenes are shot underwater. Where the island is drab and dirty, the water is rife with colour, character and contradiction, as fish swim side by side like the metropolis Priscila hopes to live in one day. Fastidious in its nature, The Fisherman’s Daughter gets to the point of the story quickly, refreshing in an era of luxuriance, but Samuel’s transition from disgusted, old-fashioned fisherman to caring parent is clumsily handled. Seemingly all it takes is a fish supper – there is no meat on the island – to turn the man from grump to goodie.

Priscila is eventually spotted by the other fishermen, and one reveals himself as a closeted homosexual to her. Once again, there is no mention of her gender identity (the fisherman refers to Priscila as a “transvestite”), but the filmmakers have the good sense to cut away before showing the sex scene in its entirety. It would be remiss not to mention Nathalia Rincón’s central performance, who commands the screen as Priscila with subtle gestures, and frightened, furrowed eyebrows. Roamir Pineda is also noteworthy as the estranged father: Limited by the scope of story, Pineda nonetheless excels as a solitary man experiencing love again for the first time in many years.

The film closes with a quietly beautiful silloutte beneath the sea. Director Edgar de Luque Jácome uses lush lighting to demonstrate the otherworldliness of the ocean, presenting two swimmers floating as effortlessly as the creatures do beneath them. It’s a glorious montage that wraps the story up on a sombre note, free from the trappings and claustrophobia of the island.

The Fisherman’s Daughter just premiered at the First Feature Competition of the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.


By Eoghan Lyng - 16-11-2023

Throughout a journey found through his own writings and the writings of other filmmakers, Eoghan has taken to the spirit of the surreal to find greater meaning from the real. He finds it far easier to...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
Sexual diversity is at the very heart of [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Films quotes are very powerful not just because [Read More...]

Read More

The Top 10 hottest summer movies

 

DMovies' team - 17-07-2024

We have picked 10 dirty movies bursting with beauty and passion, as well as pain and anger, all of them taking place under the unforgiving summer sun [Read More...]

Our dirty questions to Gabriel Mayo

 

Paul Risker - 16-07-2024

Paul Risker interviews the director of A Weird Kind of Beautiful, a very dark drama about friendship; they talk about single location stories, the pandemic, improvisation, misogyny, and much more - read our exclusive interview [Read More...]

Cinema’s dirtiest anti-heroes: the characters you love to hate

 

Paola Christensen - 15-07-2024

Paola Christensen investigates the complex psychology of the most equally reviled and cherished characters in the history of cinema, and concludes that the line between good and evil is wafer-thin [Read More...]