Thursday, May 25, 2017

Now on Netflix: The Lighthouse of the Orcas (2017)

The Lighthouse of the Orcas (2017) - Directed by Gerardo Olivares; Written by Gerardo Olivares, Lucia Puenzo, Sallua Sehk; Starring Maribel Verdu, Joaquin Furriel, Joaquin Rapalini.

By Kenny Howell

A woman travels with her autistic son from Spain to remote Argentina in search of a man that can maybe help her son get in touch with his emotions through animal therapy.

The animals here are killer whales, which often interact with a ranger in Patagonia named Beto (Joaquin Furriel), a lonely man that lives out his days in a small shack on the ocean. He spends his days with the whales, playing with them, and they trust him so much that he can reach out of his boat and touch them. That gets him in trouble with the park service who are scared that if tourists see him do it, they will want to interact with the animals as well.

That is exactly why Lola (Maribel Verdu) comes to the rural area. Her son Tristan (Joaquin Rapalini) is autistic, and he has shown a lot of interest in whales. She thinks being able to able interact with them will help him in everyday life, as Tristan struggles with any sort of communication with other people. Beto is hesitant at first, but the three bond over a few weeks together.

The Lighthouse of the Orcas is based on a true story, to which extent I was not able to find. I do know that animal therapy has been used in various ways in the last several years, and has been very successful, but what I usually have seen is horses or other somewhat domesticated farm animals. I actually did a newspaper article on it a few years back, and it was quite impressive to see the results. This is the first time I have seen whales used for that, and that seems crazy. That is part of the draw to The Lighthouse of the Orcas, because it is nuts how this man had such a close bond with these wild animals which can be vicious hunters, though never really with humans. The film occasionally veers too heavy into sentimentality, but it is an interesting nonetheless.

The Lighthouse of the Orcas is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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