|Film review: Thursday till Sunday|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Wednesday, 03 April 2013 09:58|
Director: Dominga Sotomayor
Planes, Trains and Automobiles. National Lampoon’s Vacation. Little Miss Sunshine. Identity Thief. Cinema is full of road trips – too many, in fact. But while the USA’s frequently recycled format has begun to bore, South America is starting to remind us what makes the genre so special. Las Acacias last year was a lovely Argentine romance. Dominga Sotomayor’s Chilean drama is the opposite. But they have something in common: they both feel like real road trips. And they're both excellent.
Ana (Giannini) and Papa (Perez-Bannen) take the family north from Santiago for a holiday. Their destination? Separation. "Are you sure you want me to come with you?" Ana asks in the early hours of the morning. It's the first hint we get that something's up. Over the four-day trek, it soon becomes obvious that there’s trouble in the passenger cab. The marriage has run out of gas.
Things are so bad that even the kids can tell - and that’s the decision that sets apart Dominga’s startling debut: she tells the whole thing from their perspective. Santi Ahumada and Emiliano Freifeld are fantastic as the two innocents along for the ride, but Ahumada’s Lucia steals the show as the observant narrator. At the beginning, she’s only concerned with learning to drive and singing as loudly as possible, but as her parents' marriage increasingly goes off track, she glances at the drivers in front with suspicious, sad eyes.
Journeying from ignorance to awareness with barely a word spoken, she’s a young talent to watch out for. So too is Sotomayor, a director with a deliberately unflashy eye, happy to let the camera keep rolling as the dusty fields fly by the passenger window. Like the understated performances from all the family, her camera lets the desolate landscape speak for itself, the long takes lulling you into the car's claustrophobic, clammy rhythm.
From the loaded glances to the gradual moral corruption of Lucia's role models – the mother (ahem) reuniting with an old friend, the father stopping to scrump for apples – the gentle realism builds into an almost uncomfortably painful road trip. You could swear you were right on the back seat with them - you feel every bump on the way.