The coastline of Galicia, located in Northern Spain, is notorious for its dangerous waters. Nicknamed “coste de morte” or “coast of death”, it is a place of frequent shipwrecks. The film explores the power of the coastline and the stories of the inhabitants.
For a film about shipwrecks, Costa da Morte spends very little time on them. Instead, director Lois Patiño presents his film almost entirely in extremely long shots of the endless ocean. The sounds of the crashing waves create the film’s soundtrack, mingling with the voiceovers of the island’s inhabitants as they tell their stories.
Everything is dwarfed by the vastness of the ocean. While there is something to be said for respecting the power of nature, especially in a place that has been shaped by it, Costa da Morte has let itself be engulfed by it. Human figures are obscured by the crashing waves, completely invisible. Combined with grainy cinematography, Costa da Morte plays like one long experimental art piece by an artist obsessed with the colour grey.
What could have been a fascinating look into the power of nature has instead been reduced to an exercise in tedium.