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Near the provincial town of San Julian, three vibrant characters undertake seemingly mundane journeys that turn out to be subtly life changing. A lonely, fastidious traveling salesman quests for the perfect cream cake to win the widow of his dreams. A grizzly grandfather hitchhikes to town to find his forgotten lost dog and seek forgiveness. A poor young mother hopes to win the grand prize--a microprocessor--as a contestant on a TV game show. In the end, the three will get more or less what they set out for, but it will come to them in ways that they never expected. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Historias mínimas (2002), directed by Carlos Sorin, was shown at Rochester's Dryden Theatre as "Intimate Histories." This film is a small, excellent road movie.
The road is a well-paved but barren stretch of highway between a small village in Patagonia and a larger city. Four people are traveling this road--a young mother with her infant son, an older man, and a traveling salesman. The young mother is going to appear on a televised quiz show. The older man is searching for his dog, and the salesman hopes to impress an attractive widow with his thoughtful gift of a birthday cake for her son.
The stories--and travels--of these people intertwine as they get closer to their destination. Nothing goes exactly as planned, but each character deals with her or his situation in a reasonably successful way.
I was struck by the caring and concern that strangers show for the travelers. I wonder if this is a realistic portrayal of life in Patagonia. If so, it may represent the good side of a frontier mentality--nature isn't going to help us, and the government isn't going to help us, so we have to help each other. (In fact, the only non-helpful people the travelers encounter are the television quiz show staff. The implication could be that once you step away from reality and into show business, kindness disappears.)
All the acting was excellent. The actors appeared to be amateurs, and it takes a skilled director to bring forth great performances from non- professionals. I want to single out the performance of Antonio Benedicti as Don Justo Benedictis, the older man. Don Justo is determined to find his dog, and the sheer power of this determination (along with a supply of yerba mate) carries him forward.
Another reviewer has called this film a small gem, and I agree. It's worth seeking out if you'd enjoy following four people in their difficult Patagonian odysseys.
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