Sometimes, to reach self-discovery, you have to take big giant leaps.
"Finding Sofia", directed by Nico Casavecchia and starring Sam Huntington, brings this aspect to the table with the help of animation and the Argentinian landscape.
"Sofia" starts off with Alex Tylor (Huntington), an animator based in New York who is ready to sign a major contract deal with a yogurt company after his video, "Dancing Tomatoes", goes viral. As Alex sets up negotiations with the company at a club, he also engages in a texting conversation with a woman named Sofia (Andrea Carballo). The basis of their relationship develops after Sofia leaves a comment on his video comparing his work to the superficiality of the world. The catch? They've never actually met in person, since Sofia is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Alex is immediately drawn to Sofia, and thanks to encouragement from alcohol, he drunkenly buys a plane ticket to see her.
"As he arrives in Argentina, Alex texts Sofia to let her know he's there to talk to her. He suggests coffee, but she tells him it's not a good time for them to meet. Just so he can finally get to see her, Alex lies to Sofia about getting robbed at a convenience store, that way, she will come help him, or at least send someone that will bring him to her.
By nightfall, Alex reaches Sofia's house by boat, much to her dismay. Alex realizes then that Sofia is in a long-term relationship with a man named Victor (Rafael Spregelburd), a painter headed for an art exhibition in hopes of securing a large grant. Because Alex cannot leave the country without talking to the U.S. Embassy about his stolen passport, the two arrange for him to stay as long as he plays off that he is Sofia's cousin.
As we're introduced to Sofia's life at home, we get a closer look at Victor's career goals and his fears of letting his art being compromised by "big names," a conflict Alex easily relates to. We also meet Flor (Sofia Brihet), his sweet assistant who welcomes Alex to the home and tries to dispel the tension between him and Victor.
Alex finds himself in a tangle because he is still shocked at Sofia having a boyfriend unbeknownst to him. Another notable problem? He can't speak Spanish, so he's often clueless about what's actually happening around him.
Throughout his stay, Alex not only tries to uncover more of who Sofia is in real-life, but he's also forced to think about what's next for himself. He's expected to finalize the plans that would solidify him as an artist, in a world he claims is full of so-called "creative-minded people." First things first, though, he has to actually get permission to go back to the United States, without any valid form of identification.
"Finding Sofia", shot on the island of El Tigre, captures the intimacy between Alex and Sofia beautifully. Most of that is attributed to the sharp cinematography of the island, but also the notable chemistry between Huntington and Carballo. The performances from Brihet and Spregelburd enhance the ensemble's authenticity as well. Flor becomes an easily likeable character, a person you want to befriend. Meanwhile, Victor is the person you find yourself frustrated with time and time again because he stands in the way between Alex and Sofia.
The standout moments of "Sofia" draw from the comedy delivered by Huntington. I could not stop laughing when Alex often found himself lost in translation by the conversations in Spanish (which are highlighted with subtitles). You've either been in his position or, if you're a Spanish-speaker, know of others who can fit in his shoes all too well.
The film also portrays the workings of Alex's mind with vignettes told through stunning animation, brought about by Casavecchia. These illustrations make Alex's character more likable and easier to understand. Watching each brief story, I couldn't help but wonder about the inspiration and detail that went into the artwork, in addition to envying Casavecchia's natural talent as an artist (since I cannot draw like him). Most importantly, it steers away from going into the stereotypical direction of a romantic-based comedy. I found myself surprised often as the film played on.
As "Finding Sofia" continues along the festival circuit, I genuinely hope viewers get a chance to see it. It's a sweet little indie film that successfully reminds you to go after what you want and find put more about yourself along the way, no matter the obstacles. And, that it's okay to make a fool of yourself too.
(© 2016 KVUE)