‘Dos Estaciones’ • Salt Lake Magazine
One could say that the terroir is at the heart of the austere and subtle drama of Juan Pablo González Dos Estaciones. It is, in many ways, a film about the making of tequila in the highlands of Jalisco in western Mexico. As aficionados know, although tequila’s origins are ancient and mysterious (or simply disputed), the spirit received Mexico’s first designation of origin in 1974. This legally reserved the name “tequila” only. to spirits distilled from Weber azul (blue agave) throughout the state. of Jalisco and in a few small municipalities elsewhere in Mexico. The deep history of tequila production around the town of Tequila (yes, Virginia, there is such a place, gracias a Dios, just an hour north of Guadalajara) has led to the town being collectively named, Volcano neighbor and the surrounding valleys a World Heritage Site in 2006.
Of course, these site-specific games of authenticity are primarily based on international legal recognition and there are a host of agave liquors made and marketed around the world, including Tequila itself, which although sold as tequila , are not officially certified as Tequila. (Mezcal, sotol, and raicilla are another matter altogether.)
Again, tequila isn’t just about location; it is also a question of method. Some distilleries base their notions of taste and quality on their use of pre-industrial methods (stone or brick ovens to cook the agave and a stone wheel – a tahona – to crush them), while many others happily use modern presses and autoclaves. Additionally, while hundreds of Mexican distilleries produce their own line of tequila, they may also rent their facilities or sell some of their stock to other labels, many of which are co-owned by celebrities and headquartered in from other countries, cf Patrón, Casamigos and those of Utah Vida. Notably, too, of the Big Three – Cuervo, Sauza and Herradura, among Jalisco’s oldest and most famous tequila brands – only Cuervo is not owned by an American conglomerate.
The blue agave wasn’t always the singular star it is today. At the end of the 19and century, as Don Cenobio Sauza began to institutionalize modern production methods and national and international distribution, Weber azul became the now-standard source of tequila due to its relatively rapid rate of maturity. It’s an industrial winner, but the legacy of blue agave success is a vast monoculture that covers the hills of central Jalisco, displaces traditional subsistence crops and is historically prone to disease, called plague, which n is just one of the many challenges faced by Dos Estacionesof the stoic hero, Doña María (Teresa Sánchez).
Determined and resolute, rarely showing a trace of emotion, Doña María begins her day and the film by patiently inspecting the entirety of her family’s relatively modest facilities. We come to assume that she is the last of the line. Gerardo Guerra’s patient and detailed cinematography not only provides a comprehensive tour of Doña María’s operation, from field to bottle, it seems designed to underscore the essential connection between the scenic red soil of Los Altos, the enormous plants of agave extracted from it, and the grueling and repetitive labor of the distillery workers, the men and women turning the raw materials into a finely crafted luxury item, often receiving wages below those they earned. If it wasn’t the latest wave of plague that slashed Doña María’s profits and racked up her debts, it was other agave shortages created by thieves and the massive buying power of foreign corporations.
Nevertheless, the boss, both laconic and benevolent, is considered a valued member of the families of his workers. As much as Doña María’s duty is to produce a product worthy of her family’s name, she is seen as the one who provides – and above all, the one who provides jobs in a community entirely dependent on agave farming and success. distilleries. This responsibility is implicit in Doña María’s seemingly flippant dialogue with a young woman, Rafaela (Rafaela Fuentes), at an employee’s child’s birthday party. “Yes”, finally admits Doña María. “I need someone with your profile.” The physical implications of the commentary are notable, in that something like a mutual seduction develops between the two women as times get harder and harder, exposing both tender and cryptic new sides to the character of Doña María. . And just when we realize that Rafaela had been looking for a job when they first met without ever saying so, we start to wonder if there’s even more she’s been fishing for since she was in charge of accounts. from the distillery.
Like the rain, the river, the sun and the shade of the trees, these personal mysteries make the terroir of Dos Estaciones always richer, making it a film demanding deep attention. You must listen and watch carefully to fully understand the drama unfolding beneath the surface. The love is there, as is the deep hatred, and while the outcome is not inevitable, it seems hard-won, laying bare a difficult and inescapable truth that cannot be approached any other way. For the elegant and documentary presentation of its subject matter, for its nuanced performances and its deliciously calm drama, Dos Estaciones is definitely worth savoring right now.
Read all of salt lake magazines Sundance 2022 reviews.