Amama ★★★½

The setting of this family drama is Basque country of northern Spain, among sylvan farmland near San Sebastian. The Basque tradition has always been that the oldest child inherits all the land; but increasingly, the inheritor has become a matter of choice...in the case of this land-rich farming family a choice made by the elderly grandmother, who ruled with steely silence. When the eldest son opts to escape his heritage, the future responsibility falls on Amama, the artistic middle daughter (the younger son is considered a wastrel.) That is the set-up for a drama of conflict...tradition vs. modernity. The film is gorgeously shot, and makes great use of Amama's sensitive artistry as she illustrates her photographic skills in a one-woman art exhibition. However, I just couldn't engage emotionally with the characters. So as much as I admired aspects of the film making, the plot seemed contrived and the pacing so lugubrious that I lost interest before the somewhat predictable outcome.