Maybe I'm just naive to how the film industry really works. Or it was down to the fact that I was a guest of a destination marketing firm. Whatever the reason, I found myself watching Patagonia on Wednesday thinking 'do I want to go to Patagonia?’
Before I get into that let me say that the film is a true beaut. Likeable characters, a few familiar faces, the right amount of humour, stunning cinemaphotography, a soundtrack to die for. Patagonia tells two stories of the connection between the Chile/Argentina region and Wales, following two different 'couples' in their journeys across each country. It's sentimental and traditional, in its native tongues and certainly showcases a beautiful landscape.
The film is also keen to show the similarities between the two locations. So much so that things started to become predictable and it began to feel like I'm watching an advert. Even Matio the Welsh guide in Patagonia, played by Matthew Rhys from Brothers and Sisters, says that 'lots of Welsh people come here for holidays'. Of course my cynicism hasn't been helped by the fact that I've seen at least three tour operators try to promote the destination. Patagonia that is, not Wales. At least travel companies are waking up to the screen tourism possibilities.
So what type of 'holiday' did the film portray? Well certainly one that is 'off the beaten track' (does that actually exist?), surrounded by barren desert with limited transport. It oozed the sense of a journey or discovery, the type of destination you'd go to 'find yourself'. To bring this back to a lauguage Brits would understand, Patagonian locals were shown to like their beer and there are sheep in the farms. Very Welsh. Likewise Cardiff and Buenos Aires were shown not too dissimilar to each other, both wild but friendly.
Therefore I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to visit Patagonia or not when I stepped back out of the cinema. Why should I travel all that way (on a product placed Aerolineas Argentineas flight), when I could be in a similar environment in three hours down the road?