Thursday, 12 April 2012

Las Acacias ★★★★☆

Winner of the Sutherland award at this year’s London Film Festival as well as the prestigious Camera D’or at Cannes, Pablo Giorgelli’s slow burning road movie, Las Acacias is an inventive, yet low key affair which whilst lacking in engaging dialogue is bustling with intriguing character development.

Truck driver Ruben’s (German de Silva) life is an isolated one, working long solitary shifts transporting timber from Paraguay to Argentina. He has agreed to carry a passenger across the border with him, a middle aged woman by the name of Jainta (Hebe Duarte) who’s searching for work in Buenos Aries. However, when she arrives to meet him at the rendezvous she’s accompanied by her five month old baby – something Ruben wasn’t expecting. Despite his reluctance to transport this screaming infant he agrees to take them both anyway – maybe out of a sense of decency or just to ensure he doesn’t spend another long haul trip alone.

Both characters begin as incredibly secretive individuals, sharing little in the way of conversation within the claustrophobic confines of Ruben’s truck’s cabin. However, despite the sparse dialogue, as the scenery passes them by and the miles on the clock increase they slowly start to open up to one another. This slow peeling away of these densely layered individuals builds a palpable degree of intrigue that’s seems foreign compared to the film languid pace and calculated approach.

Surprisingly its not the relationship between Ruben and Jainta that drives the film forward but rather the Baby (Anahi) who is the primary narrative device here. Her adorable youthful charms – especially how she begins to mimic Ruben’s expressions and actions – are what break this solemn lorry driver’s rigid fixation with the job at hand and slowly distracts from the mundane rituals of his life – a striking metaphor for how consumed our society is by working and how little time we take to enjoy the world around us.

Certainly not to everyone’s tastes, the tension which builds between the film’s two central characters fails to ignite in away that will reward those who can’t see past the tedium of being a backseat passenger to this monotonous journey through South America, however Las Acacias is a pensive character study which demands your patience if it’s to be truly enjoyed. Whilst the audience is given little in the way of details, it’s clear that these two lost souls share a connection and whilst there’s no Hollywood test of their budding relationship through some hyperbolic sentimental lesson at the end of their journey, what your left with is a deeply personal and effecting tale that resonates which much more gravitas.

Las Acacias is a leisurely paced, yet densely layered character piece that belies its simplistic facade – a beautifully constructed and naturally evolving tale that has a heart of gold behind its gritty exterior.

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