Few things in the world compare to the love that a mother has for their child. The world inside Netflix’s Spanish survival thriller, Nowhere, is exceptionally bleak and could use some of that emotion in a society crumbling under a totalitarian regime in Spain. Food and shelter are scarce, and people are rounded up and confined. Nico (Tamar Novas) is on the run with his pregnant spouse, Mia (Anna Castillo), moving from shipping yards with other refugees looking for freedom. They speak of Ireland rejecting the mantra of the fallen governments happening worldwide.
While director Albert Pinto introduces the setting of how this world is, he quickly retreats from overly explaining it. Instead, Pinto’s choices focus on this singular location survivalist setting where much of Nowhere resides. While traveling inside a shipping container, Nico and Mia get separated due to the brutality of soldiers and smugglers. Suppose that wasn’t bad enough. Mia hides while she has to witness fellow refugees get brutally murdered by mercenaries. While she’s the last one in a particular shipping container, she finds herself on a ship and gets knocked into the ocean due to a storm. She finds herself floating in the sea with only a certain amount of supplies, a flip phone that kind of works, and, oh, yeah, a baby on the way.
It’s not that Mia has to fight for her newborn baby; it’s also that she’s lost a child due to the transgressions of this totalitarian movement before this ordeal. There’s an added incentive for her to survive in that she refuses to let something happen like that again. Now, you can only do so much in a small space. Mia has to use a power tool to carve a crawl space at the top of the roof. At certain points, whales come and knock over and hit the cargo. Due to holes being in the container, it’s always taking on water. Not to mention, there’s a mouth to feed besides Mia’s own.
While much of Nowhere’s formula is conventional, Pinto’s scenarios provide Castillo with some poignant moments where she expresses strength and despair within this character. Given how the film computes time, it’s hard to deduct the length in which Mia and her baby, Noa, are out at sea. Much is told through Mia’s chronicles through writing days on tape – however, the film itself doesn’t feel like it goes through a progressive timeline. Then again, this could be done for the sake of Mia losing track of days and hours. Given how much water is in the container and some sporadic placement of wooden chests, the setting doesn’t feel as claustrophobic as Pinto intends.
Only when Mia’s baby comes do you get the heightened sense of time running out. Otherside, there’s a lot of space for our main character to operate – even as food and water dwindle. As many of the same tight scenarios and stroke of luck laps over themselves, it’s the tranquil moments when Mia can contact Nico or recount her history to her baby girl where the film shines the most. If Nowhere gets away from addressing how the world loses its mind, perhaps it will find itself through the hearts and perseverance of small families coming out of horrific ordeals.