Underdeveloped, Unnecessary, ‘Utama’ is an Underwhelming Drama Film

This film captivates yet confuses viewers at the same time


“Utama” explores the effect that a changing environment has on people. Rating: C+ Photo Credit: Alma Films

Elise Chan, Staff Writer

As an elderly couple living in the Bolivian Highlands, Virginio (José Calcina) and Sisa (Luisa Quispe) have been living a peaceful life for many years. However, a long drought has left them without water threatening their way of life. After their grandson, Clever (Santos Choque), informs them about the drought, the family is hesitant about moving to the city. From walking up a mountain hoping to find water, to performing sacrifices, Virginio tries everything he can to stay in the highlands. 

This film explores many themes, like climate change and how it affects people, and the difference between tradition and modernity. These two especially are prevalent and are the main driving points of the story, as the drought forces the couple to choose whether they’ll move to the city or continue their traditional way of living.

The movie starts off slow in the beginning, and most of the action does not take place until the last thirty minutes of the movie. While the climax of the film is filled with emotion, there is nothing interesting about the first hour of the movie, as the characters perform mundane activities that have little impact on the story. The scenes are often slow-paced, but the movie often jumps to new scenes abruptly. Something that stood out to me was that during a suspenseful scene, the camera suddenly cut to another scene. This disappointed me, as I wanted to see how the previous scene was resolved and the action that led up to the next scene.

In addition, this film has little dialogue. I found this to be an issue because without dialogue, it isn’t clear what the characters were doing in the movie. I often found myself confused about the plot of the movie and the exposition didn’t help give me any clue as to what was happening.

While watching this film, I was disappointed in the acting. Calcina wasn’t very expressive and talked with either a monotone or angry tone in his voice, giving me the impression that his character is either a tired or grumpy grandfather. The rest of the main characters weren’t memorable and it’s hard to find something distinctive about them. It just felt like they were there the entire movie, but didn’t do anything. 

All the scenes were shot in the same angle and that combined with the acting made everything dull. As I mentioned before, this movie also cut scenes and transitioned over to another at the most random times. I felt lost while watching this movie because I didn’t know what was happening.

Overall, I expected better from this movie. I didn’t enjoy much of it except for the ending, and even then, that was average at best. Changes could’ve been made to the acting to give it more emotion, and fixing the camera work would help the story flow better as some scenes wouldn’t be so choppy. This story has a decent plot and had the potential to be great, but the execution of the production just killed it for me.