The primary appeal of Dominga Sotomayor’s Too Late to Die Young is its seductive portrayal of a liminal state. Set in a bohemian commune in the Chilean countryside, a year after the downfall of Pinochet’s dictatorship, the film (which won the Golden Leopard for Best Director at the 2018 Locarno Festival) revels in that familiar sensation of being on the cusp of a transformative encounter that, as yet, remains frustratingly out of reach, so one searches elsewhere—destructively, impulsively. Sotomayor’s main subject, here, is Sofia (Demian Hernández), a young woman who longs to leave her rural confines and the hold of her luthier father for the peripatetic urban wanderings of her absentee, musician mother. Like the films of Lucrecia Martel (particularly La Ciénaga), Too Late to Die Young ebbs and flows with a particular attention to sensorial pleasures. Sotomayor has a similar talent for composing frames and deploying narrative elisions that pull the viewer in; her rhythms, though, are far more languid, better to conceal the characters’ rumblings of discontent. Despite its various formalist pleasures, Too Late to Die Young ultimately offers little genuine insight. But its finale is a stunner: one way of life going up in flames to make room for another.
Published as part of Before We Vanish | Issue 5.