Diana Peralta’s debut film, De Lo Mio (“of mine”), is an intimate slice-of-life story of a family coming together to deal with a death in the Dominican Republic.
Two sisters, Rita (Sasha Merci) and Carolina (Darlene Demorizi), travel from New York to the Dominican Republic at the behest of their brother, Dante (Héctor Aníbal), to help him prepare the family home for sale in the wake of their father’s death. As children the sisters lived in New York with their mother, while Dante stayed behind with their father. Subsequently Rita and Carolina are a close-knit unit that Dante isn’t part of, nor does he know much about their lives.
All the characters are challenged. The women must make peace with losing their last connection to their homeland. Dante has great affection for his sisters, but he suspects they’ve only come to collect their share of the proceeds. He harbors deep anger that they didn’t visit when their father was dying.
“…Dante has great affection for his sisters, but he also suspects they’ve only come to collect their share of the proceeds….”
These dynamics bubble up in the forced intimacy of their re-connection over the house. He’s jealous of their closeness. They are disapproving of his life. After the long estrangement fights erupt, but also bonding and laughter. This film takes a hard look at what being family means, to what degree it is blood, and how much is context.
Rita and Carolina are charmed by their long lost homeland, but also dismayed by the dangers and differences of it. Being Dominican is integral to their lives. It shapes them, both in its presence and absence.
The affection of the filmmaker for this place and people is palpable. There is longing in the drawn-out shots traveling the landscape. Peralta paints the beauty of the country with loving care, so vividly you can almost smell the sea and feel the warm breeze off the swaying palms. The familiar vehicle of film takes us places far from our own experience through the safe remove of a movie screen. That’s the delight of cinema, but also a downside when it insulates us too much from the raw presence of the place. A skilled filmmaker can nullify the distance between viewer and screen, filling our senses with delights we would otherwise not know. De Lo Mio brings the Dominican Republic to us, enfolds us and draws us in for one bittersweet moment.
De Lo Mio (2019) Written and directed by Diana Peralta. Starring Sasha Merci, Darlene Demorizi, Héctor Aníbal.
7 out of 10