Sol: a post-apocalyptic story of survival, family relationship and trauma, and hope

Andy Alvarez, “Sol” (2020)

In a world devastated by climate change (and perhaps global war), two survivors – Claudia (Rukiya Bernard) and her young daughter Marisol (Aria Birch) – eke out a living tending to their vegetable patch, maintaining their self-sufficient home, doing lessons with AI bot Edison (David Kaye) and watching out for TV news of changes in the weather that might affect their survival. Marisol spends her spare time looking out the windows into the perennially misty skies for any sign of the sun. Now and then, Claudia goes outside in full hazmat suit to check around the property and Marisol begs to go with her. Claudia orders the girl to stay home as she does not trust Marisol to stick strictly to emergency survival rules – including the one about never travelling alone. Marisol must stay home and study with Edison while Claudia tramps around the property.

Of course, once Claudia gets back, Edison informs her that Marisol has been gone for over 40 minutes – so Mum goes out to find the girl. This turns into a hair-raising incident: Marisol is lost after finding a toy bear, having a panic attack and running off; and Claudia herself, searching for the girl, relives a traumatic memory in which her husband dies from exposure to toxic gases in the atmosphere. Eventually finding each other, both mother and daughter learn a valuable lesson and from there their relationship changes to one of better and mutual understanding.

The film is completely driven by its characters and their relationship, and both Bernard and Birch do wonderful work in making Claudia and Marisol believable as over-protective mum and rebellious daughter. Claudia realises that by leaving Marisol at home, the girl will never become familiar with the property, and Marisol learns that rules are rules for a reason. Trauma, when faced alone, will be limiting but when faced by two people together, can be an opportunity for learning, healing and eventually growth.

While the film’s colour is light, its atmosphere is melancholy and gives it a particular look. Near the end, an unexpected twist in the plot comes that suggests there will be more to Claudia and Marisol’s story, and they may not be alone for much longer.