TIFF 2023 Review ‘A Ravaging Wind’

“A Ravaging Wind,” directed by Paula Hernández, is a powerful cinematic journey weaving a tapestry of faith, family, and profound self-discovery against the remote Argentinian countryside, and Gringo’s scrapyard.

A traveling Reverend and his teenage daughter, whose lives take an unexpected turn when their car, which doubles as their home, breaks down in the remote Argentinian countryside. They receive help from another family, a father and son, living in somewhat isolation in a scrapyard.  The film depicts the complex relationships of the two fathers and their children, and the parallels between them, unearthing shared and unshared emotions.

The film stars Alfredo Castro as Reverend Pearson, Almudena González as Leni, the daughter, Sergi López as Gringo, and Joaquin Acebo as Chango/Jose Emilio, as Gringo’s son.  The stellar cast brings depth, and authenticity to their roles.  Each actor’s performance contributes to the film’s overall impact, making it an unforgettable cinematic experience.  The excellent performances raise the film’s depth and emotional resonance.  Alfredo Castro delivers a compelling portrayal of a charismatic, self-absorbed yet enigmatic preacher expelling evil spirits dwelling in the bodies of his flock, who bears a striking resemblance to Benny Hinn, an American Christian televangelist.  Almudena shines as Leni, the Reverend’s perceptive daughter, straddling adolescence and adulthood, who yearns for personal freedom.  Sergi López and Joaquín Acebo contribute to the narrative’s richness with their performances in a complicated father and son relationship hidden behind an emotionally charged connection.  

Hernandez juxtaposes the troubled relationship between father and daughter against the complicated relationship between father and son where simmering tensions and connections between parent and child and amongst the characters create dramatic tension that drives the narrative. The film reveals the pathology of family dynamics with secrets and lies running through the film, enriching the narrative while the motif of salvation stitches the narrative into a cohesive structure. The opening shot is Leni watching her father through an opening in the slates of the barn while her father preaches and casts demons from his flock and the film nearly ends with a baptism in a river.

The film’s evocative cinematography captures the isolation of the countryside, enhancing the feeling of a world apart from the hurried urban life. The pacing of the narrative serves to build the emotional arcs of the characters, finally leading to a transformative climax that leaves a lasting impact.  The film resonated with me on many levels evoking existential questions such as the importance of family, faith and vocation.  It’s more than a dramatic film, but a coming of age film for Leni and Chango, as Leni finds inner strength to break away, and Chango to follow his calling.   Interestingly, as Chango moves closer to his calling, Leni pulls away from her father and the trappings of faith.  But, it’s also a road film where the car as a metaphor for home is a lived reality for hundreds of thousands of people who find themselves marginalized by a capitalist system, and when the car breaks down, one must rely on the kindness of strangers to pick up the pieces.  “A Ravaging Wind” is a gem of a film you don’t want to miss, a thoughtful study of the unexpected bonds that shape our lives.


Watch the trailer for A Ravaging Wind below