William Vega’s The Towrope is a minimalistic piece of filmmaking that plays out more like an existential mystery, with almost none of the characters intentions being particularly clear besides Alicia. This is a film that has a very strong spiritual, almost mythical quality, with Alicia’s character seemingly carrying death wherever she goes. In the opening sequence of the film we follow Alicia wandering through the dense marsh, with juxtaposition of death and darkness surrounding her. We learn that Alicia’s family has been murdered and she soon stumbles across her uncle’s house. Her uncle is reluctant to take her in at first, but he obliges, letting her help work on the motel he is trying to construct. This motel is what gives Alicia a sense of comfort and jubilation and yet we see how in her nightmares she witnesses the destruction of this symbol of hope. This a hard film to fully comprehend but I think Vega’s main exploration revolves around the relationship between despair and hope with Alicia’s character frequently teetering between the two. Even though she is given a place to live by her uncle, she remains a lonely individual, with the motel being symbol of hope. The other character worth mentioning would be the Uncle, whose intentions are perverse whether from his sexual-fueled thoughts about his niece to not-so honest dealings with his fishing collective. This character is handled extremely well, never being completely demonized for his actions. Vega shows a man whose desolate lifestyle has made him struggle desperately with loneliness, and the film beautifully captures the good and bad sides of this character. From a technical standpoint the cinematography of The Towrope really stands out. Vega uses the fog-soaked landscapes to his advantage in crafting a film that is beautifully constructed of skillful compositions which evoke this sense of isolation, loneliness, and unease. This unease is probably my favorite aspect of the film, with The Towrope creating this sense of dread, subtlety reminding the viewer of the dangers which exist potentially just over the horizon. We are reminded that what happened to Alicia’s parents could easily happen once again in this small community, with small reminders of the potential danger sprinkled throughout. William Vega’s The Towrope is a difficult film to grasp that almost feels like a commentary on the hardship and uncertainty of life in this setting. I would be lying if I said I grasped everything but it’s a film full of subtext and worth seeking out for the adventurous viewer.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.