In an idyllic seaside city in the Dominican Republic, the long-time relationship between a beautiful and impoverished young local girl and her wealthy European lover (Geraldine Chaplin) is put to the test as issues of class, inequality and exploitation rise to the surface.
Contemporary World Cinema
Laura Amelia Guzmán, Israel Cárdenas
Samana, an idyllic beach city in the Dominican Republic, is an increasingly popular spot for tourism, both local and international. Growth in the peninsula has provided new opportunities for Dominicans and Haitians (limited mostly to tourist-related industries), while numerous European expats flock to this sleepy paradise and end up spending months, even years, living by the sea.
Filmmakers Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas shot their second feature Jean Gentil in Samana, and with Sand Dollars they return to the region to explore the complex cultural exchanges occurring between the locals and their richer European cohabitants. The film focuses on twenty-year-old local Noeli (Yanet Mojica), who for two years has been involved in a relationship with the much older Anne (Geraldine Chaplin). Anne is absolutely smitten with her young lover and prone to jealousy when she sees her talking with anyone else. Despite the money that regularly passes between them, neither Noeli (who lives with her boyfriend) nor Anne considers their relationship to be one of prostitution; but, ultimately, Anne represents one of the few employment opportunities available to a young woman in an economy that operates on various forms of tacit exploitation.
Directors Guzmán and Cárdenas depict this troubled relationship with great delicacy, allowing us to see the genuine affection between the women while never ignoring the monetary exchange that is its intrinsic complement. Exploring this unbalanced relationship without judgment, Sand Dollars offers an incisive portrait of an increasingly pervasive postcolonial reality.