Faro, or Sanctuary to give it its English title, is a film about the relationship between a father and his daughter who run away deep into the woods. The father is wanted for murder but Hella, who is around 12-years-old, is adamant that she will not be taken way from him. So they escape and must try and survive on tinned food, wild mushrooms, and any animals they can catch to survive.
It is a film almost entirely shot outdoors, and the ‘sanctuary’ that becomes their home has a kind of other-worldly feel to it. They live close to a beautiful lake with an astonishing forest of trees just below the surface. In some ways the mythic nature of the place betrays the fact in can only ever be temporary. This is reflected in the way in which the father longingly talks of running off to Faro in Portugal at some point in the future.
As the film develops, there is a sense Hella is getting to know her father for the first time, seeing him as a real person. She finds it hard to believe her father could murder someone, and when asked, he reassures her by saying it was in self-defence. We also learn the departure of Hella’s mother has had a negative impact on them both, and up until now they do not seem to have spoken much of it.
In a similar way to The Road, the film kind of acts as a microcosm for the emotions a father goes through in looking after his child. At one point in the film he goes away for the day “to find more food”, but really just so he can get some time to himself and escape his responsibilities for a bit. Through out the film there is also the sense that he can never provide the life Hella deserves if he keeps her on the run with him indefinitely.
The other main strength of the film is in its performances. Often the two actors communicate more through what they do not say, than what they do say. There is also a sense they can never fully communicate their feelings to one another, despite both being in need of the other’s help and support.
Sanctuary is a beautiful, captivating film with great central performances. It is small in its scope, but still delivers a fascinating look at the relationship between a flawed man and his pre-teen daughter.