REVIEW: Alejandro Andrade Pease’s Visually Stunning debut, ‘Seeds’

Seeds (2017) is a Mexican coming-of-age film that follows Andy, played by Emilio Puente (Cuernavaca; Satan). Living with his single mother, the most important person in his life, Andy’s life is suddenly struck by tragedy when, at an ice-cream parlour, his mother is shot by a gunman.

Andy is then sent to live with his Grandmother, Carmen (Carmen Maura), but struggles to adjust to new surroundings with people he doesn’t know. Andy longs for paternal comfort but his father is rarely around despite living with them.

With a cold and unwelcoming grandmother and a vacant father, Andy befriends the family’s gardener, a local, young man called Charly
(Diego Alvarez Garcia). Despite being the only one in Andy’s life who actually cares for him, Charly’s involvement in a gang introduces Andy to a life of petty crime that gradually increases to attempting to rob Andy’s grandmother.

Seeds is beautifully created both visually and emotionally. The emotional journey Andy and the viewer travel on is heightened by the cinematography. The shots, the editing and the colours are all impeccable.

Pease often uses dream or nightmare sequences that are comparable to Luis Buñuel’s mysterious dreamlike universes. These dream sequences articulate Andy’s distress that starts from his mums tragic passing. They have beautiful surroundings and violence that together create a surrealistic atmosphere that are so vividly Buñuel.

In their surrealism, the dreams are not meant to be understood by the viewer, but merely observed. One can’t help but observe the vibrant colours and beauty of these scenes.

In another nod to Buñuel, the film often depicts ants as a motif. There is no explanation given to this, but it seems like a direct reference to Un Chien Andalou (1929) by Buñuel and Salvador Dalí. Seeds starts with a dream where ants are crawling on Andy’s hand before then sporadically appearing throughout the film — Andy even has a small tin full of dead ants in his possession.

Puente’s performance as Andy can be highly praised and he captures the character’s feelings incredibly well. Andy’s journey is emotional and interesting. Andy has a childlike innocence about him, that gradually is lost with the film progression as he learns to survive on his own. His father and grandmother cannot take care of him and as a result the young Andy must find it somewhere else.

LGBT issues are not inherent within the film but small details suggest at Andy coming to terms with his sexual identity. In a school where other kids use derogatory terms for homosexuality, Andy’s response is to hide, looking visibly uncomfortable. As Andy and Charly meet, the camera pans over the latter’s body in the way desiring eyes might.

However, other than this subtlety, Andy and Charly’s relationship is about friendship. Andy clings to the only person who shows compassion towards him. The friendship is heart warming despite Charly’s bad influence in Andy’s life.

Seeds was the official pick of the Rome Film Festival in 2017 and won Pease the Best International Director award in Films Infest festival in 2019. If you enjoy films that deviate from the usual narrative choices then this film is worth watching. It is not perfect, but it is enjoyable. Your 88 minutes will be well spent.

This film does not have a happy ending. It doesn’t have a bad one either. Pease’s creation of a bleakly hopeful conclusion through Andy’s closing words, leaves the films ending in the viewers hands. How do you interpret it.

Seeds is available on DVD from Monday 25th March 2019.

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