Alejandro Sieveking, Cristian Salguero, Adrián Fondari,
As befits its stark and seasonally specific title, director Emiliano Torres’s feature debut is a handsomely flinty Western set on a windswept Patagonian sheep ranch. An elderly longtime foreman (Alejandro Sieveking) grapples with an existential threat posed by the younger ranch hand (Cristian Salguero) who comes to work for the season. Each man soon enough finds himself in an adapt-or-die situation. Torres’s laconic storytelling style, abetted by cinematographer Ramiro Civita’s great eye for craggy landscapes and faces, allows for mythic overtones without belaboring them. (Early scenes of sheep shearing neatly portend a certain razoring off of all woolly melodrama.) The result is somehow insouciantly primal, and it’s no insult to the film’s fine and fully human performances to declare that, after all, winter itself is the true main character here. This is not the Patagonia of tourism. Torres manages a geographically exact window on globalization, but also a universal parable about how challenges to livelihood can and do become challenges to life itself.