Only the last 45 minutes of this constitute a film—the preceding 90 spool out like linearized video installations, mannered sight gags, or very long .gifs.

There are a handful of stunning images, to be sure. Cuaron finds occasional poetry in simple imagery—hailstones, waves, windows in rain. But they're only blips in a runtime that seemed interminable.

Mostly this feels like an exercise in nostalgia and technique. I was reaching for sincerity here, but outside of a couple of scenes toward the end, I never found it.

It will win a lot of awards, because it's that sort of movie. But I hope people who liked this will also give Hirokazu Koreeda's Shoplifters a chance. I truly believe that that film gave a far more sincere rendering of poverty and chosen families—complete with an excellent scene at the beach.

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