Dos Estaciones is an eloquent portrait of an individual – María, the owner of a tequila factory, yet it is as much a portrait of the land and the community, as the three are so closely interconnected. Director Juan Pablo González, who co-wrote the screenplay with Ana Isabel Fernández and Ilana Coleman, set his debut narrative feature in the landscape of his childhood, the Jalisco region of Mexico, known for its tequila. In its restrained, observational mode, and its moderate pace, the film has a documentary feel, it breathes with the land and the cycles of nature. Gerardo Guerra’s breathtaking cinematography brings the landscape to vivid life, the breadth of land and sky fill the frame with a sense of beauty and destiny.
Theresa Sánchez is magnificent as Senora María, her strong features sculpted by an inner resilience and keen intelligence, her passions as powerful as her sense of control. María has inherited the tequila factory and its lands from her father, but she has made it her own, expanding and developing the factory and its grounds. She is aware of her status and responsibilities as the main employer in this small town. She wears the mantle of her status with ease, accepting the respect that is her due, yet she is a caring boss. She knows her workers and their families, and on payday, each one comes into her office for a short talk, receiving their salary from her hands. Times are hard, and the pressures are mounting: a plague has been affecting local agave groves and foreign companies with huge amounts of cash have been buying out many farmers and local family-owned tequila distilleries. Yet like a family, they will weather the storms together – in her calm, confident manner, María apologizes that she cannot pay this month’s salary in full, and asks her employees to be patient, and work with her until she can turn things around.
Sánchez establishes María’s character as a somber, reserved, strong, authority figure, and then, in small moments, like gifts playfully hidden within the film, lets us see the light-hearted, graceful, and passionate aspects of this imposing character. As the guest of honor at a child’s birthday party she has her eye on a newcomer, Rafaela (Rafaela Fuentes), and as she looks then looks away, then steals another glance – it is clear that María likes what she sees.
María hires Rafaela, who is experienced in all aspects of tequila distilleries, hoping that with her help she can overcome the multitude of problems she faces. The development of their relationship is shown rather than explicitly stated, and there are some wonderfully joyous scenes between the two women. The more overt romance in the film is represented by Tatín (Tatín Vera), a trans woman and the local hair stylist, who conveys much about the community and María’s influence through her story. Tatín’s salon is doing very well, so much so that she plans to expand – and it is clear that María contributed generously to start up the salon. The film makes a lovely detour into Tatín’s romantic adventure with Fernando (Jose Galindo), offering respite from the pressures mounting on María.
A living fortress of courage and determination, María refuses to admit defeat, and Sánchez is mesmerizing in her valiantly committed portrayal.
Mexico/2022/97 min/Spanish with Hebrew and English subtitles
Director: Juan Pablo González; Screenplay: Juan Pablo González, Ana Isabel Fernández, Ilana Coleman; Cinematography: Gerardo Guerra; Music: Carmina Escobar; Cast: Teresa Sánchez, Rafaela Fuentes, Tatín Vera, Manuel García-Rulfo, José Galindo, Ana Rosa Fuentes Estrada, José Luis Flores, Juan Carrillo, Juan Eduardo Fuentes Estrada
*Originally viewed at TLVFEST 2022