Thursday till Sunday
This Chilean study of the death throws of a middle class marriage introduces a significant new talent in director Dominga Sotomayor. Ana (Paola Giannini), her unnamed husband (Francisco Pérez-Bannen) together with their two young children Lucia (Santi Ahumada) and Manuel (Emiliano Freifeld) set off in their car for a long weekend camping holiday.
Unknown to their children, their parents each have an agenda for the trip. Ana hopes that this journey will be one of reconciliation and that perhaps her husband will stay with them. Her husband however sees it as a last goodbye, a dignified exit. The film is a finely judged balancing act rendered heart-breaking as the children slowly piece together what is going on between their parents.
Much of the film is set within the claustrophobic confines of the family car, all the more emphasized by the rolling open landscapes of Chile outside the pressure cooker cabin. Obliquely observed, with careful, nuanced, attention to behavioural detail, this film feels like a close kin of Argentinian filmmaker Lucrecia Martel’s work. Sotomayor uses a strikingly similar aesthetic approach with sensitive observational camerawork which is less interested in clear compositional framing than directing our attention to the smallest observations of its cast, not to mention the use of a child’s point of view (similarly to Martel’s La Nina Santa) and a sensitivity to environment and landscape. The film is also shot by Bárbara Álvarez, the DP on Martel’s The Headless Woman.
Yet while these two South American filmmakers clearly share interests both in terms of setting and stylistic approach, Sotomayor is perhaps more interested in the emotional inner workings of her characters and less engaged with the social politics of her country than Martel. It’s easy to see why this film picked up the prestigious Tiger Award at this year’s Rotterdam Film Festival as well as the Grand Prize at Poland’s New Horizons Film Festival.