LGBT Film Festival 2015: SAND DOLLARS (2015) aka Dólares de arena ★★★★


The Dominican Republic is one of those countries that attracts many tourists with its natural beauty. But there are some people in this exotic country who use those tourists as an opportunity to make money offering the most precious thing they have – their body. A young girl, Noeli (Yanet Mojica) who introduces her boyfriend as her brother, is in a relationship with an older woman, Anne (legendary Geraldine Chaplin), and Anne, is very much in love with her. This relationship remains alive for one simple reason –  Anne`s generosity; her endless love, and money, that allows her to buy the girl`s love for as long as she wants. But everything changes when Noeli suddenly gets pregnant…

Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas`s SAND DOLLARS, is filled with so many nuances which makes it a hard film to watch – but this is a good thing though. Seeing the impressive and brave performance of Geraldine Chaplin, and her constantly changing facial expressions throughout the film will delight every movie lover who will be happy and thankful for her appearance in this film. Without her, it would have been a waste of time watching this still, beautiful film. When the film begins, we already see Noeli as a negative character, and we hope that she is capable of change…

From the opening scene, we see Noeli flirting with a French tourist, who is about to leave the Dominican Republic for France. Instead of showing him how sad she is that her money resource is leaving, this calculating and manipulative girl asks him if he will leave something for her so that she may remember him. Obviously, by ‘something’ she means money.  But when the French man leaves his chain to her, she sells it shortly after, and gives the money to her boyfriend (Ricardo Ariel Toribio). Soon after, we find Noeli on her way to visit another tourist from France, Anne, with whom she has had a relationship with for the past three years. She fulfils all Anne`s desires – but, of course, for money.

SAND DOLLARS has so many memorable scenes, and all of them because of Geraldine Chaplin. It is amazing to see how she courageously performs her part, and plays someone in love with a much younger woman – by almost forty years. Chaplin`s Anne seems to understand where this relationship with someone much younger than herself will take her, however, this does not stop her from building a bright and happy future based on sand dollars – which one day will all turn to dust. Guzmán/Cárdenas find all the little pieces and connects them to show us how this young girl, wanting it or not, must deal with her unfortunate reality. She offers her body to foreign tourists, while her boyfriend sits and waits for her to come home with large sums of money.

In conclusion, SAND DOLLARS is a film truly worth watching, but only for the prepared viewer. There is not much going on in the film, mostly conversations which seem to be improvised. The great performance of Chaplin (a daughter of the great Charlie Chaplin) will certainly surprise everyone. For someone her age she goes far beyond to get into the skin of the character and portray Anne`s fragility, vulnerability, and the dependency for feelings that were paid with sand dollars.

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