The latest entry in what's been defined by some as "slow cinema", Chilean director Dominga Sotomayor's debut feature is a leisurely subtle look at a family holiday where things aren't quite what they seem. The leisure lies in the fact that the film takes place in long takes almost entirely inside or around the family's station wagon, throughout a long weekend trip to rural Chile with a detour to visit some family land. The subtlety is that the whole trip is seen through the eyes of the teenage daughter Lucia (Santi Ahumada), who realises there is something wrong between her parents (Paola Giannini and Francisco Pérez-Bannen) while feeling it tantalizingly out of reach to her.

     Therein lies both the strength and the weakness of Ms. Sotomayor's film, following in the footsteps of other strong Latin-American female directors like Lucrecia Martel (whose cinematographer Bárbara Álvarez is also the DP here) and Paula Markovitch. All of them have made children the centrepoints of their films and eschew a standard narrative to leave things unsaid or half-suggested, but Ms. Sotomayor seems to leave things far too opaque or insufficiently fleshed out for far too long. The soothing, lethargic rhythm perfectly captures that peculiar boredom and pressure-cooker atmosphere of long car trips, but the director may have bitten off more than she could chew for a debut feature. That she did so, though, and in such a fearless manner, is entirely to her credit and Ms. Sotomayor is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Francisco Pérez-Bannen, Paola Giannini; Santi Ahumada, Emiliano Freifeld.
     Director/writer, Dominga Sotomayor; cinematography (colour, processing by Chilefilms), Bárbara Álvarez; art director, Estefanía Larraín; costumes, Juana Díaz; editors, Danielle Fillios, Catalina Marín; producers, Benjamín Domenech, Gregorio González (Forastero, Cinestación, Circe Films), Chile/Netherlands, 2012, 100 minutes.
     Screened: IndieLisboa 2012 advance screener, Lisbon, April 6th 2012.


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