Netflix review: 'A Faraway Land' has a predictable plot in a picturesque place

Fred Hawson

Posted at Aug 21 2021 01:13 PM

A scene from 'A Faraway Land' 
A scene from 'A Faraway Land' 

A Filipino reporter Nico Mendoza (Paolo Contis) is making a documentary about successful Filipinas in the Arctic Circle. He went to the Faroe Islands to shoot an interview with Filipina Mahjoy Garðalið (pronounced as "Garaloy") who operated a successful food catering business there. He learned about her work schedule, her way of life, and her family life with her Faroese husband Sigmund and her daughter Lena. 

After bringing us to Iceland in "Through Night and Day" (2018) and Greenland in "Nuuk" (2019), globe-trotting writer-director Veronica B. Velasco brings us to an even more unfamiliar Arctic locale this time -- the small volcanic archipelago called the Faroe Islands, a Danish territory located between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic Ocean. According to this film, there are around 300 Filipinos living there now, mostly mail-order brides. 

The story is quite predictable from the get-go. From their first scene together, it was pretty obvious that Nico was going to fall in love with Mahjoy. However, Velasco tried her best to spice things up by bringing us around to see a place we would probably never see ourselves. While we marvel at the natural scenic beauty of mountains, waterfalls and ocean, she also introduced us to the exotic food items there, like the fermented meat or the fatty cheese. 

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Paolo Contis and Yen Santos had a familiar handle on their characters. Contis was a natural at being a charming rascal, and Santos, a hardworking homemaker. Despite the simplicity of the plot, it was up to their chemistry to keep the audience interested. While there was a cute scene like when Mahjoy received surprises from the Philippines, there was also a scene which was totally uncomfortable to watch given that Mahjoy was a married woman. 

It was unfortunate that the picturesque Faroe Islands and the Faroese people had to be the backdrop of such an unimaginative story of forbidden love (yet again!). It was even a story that did not exactly put our Filipina compatriots there in a good light, despite the admirable initial premise of celebrating a Filipina's success in a faraway country. The scene at the airport practically summarized everything that was wrong with the reckless story. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."