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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
Argentine director Carlos Sorin scores a triumph with this wonderful movie in which he, working with the brilliant script of Pablo Solarz, take us for a ride into that lonely area of the Argentina's Southern region of Patagonia.
If you haven't seen the film, perhaps you should stop reading.
The story brings together three lives into play. First there is the old Don Justo Benedictis, who we see at the beginning of the film being tested for glasses. He is at the end of his life, at the edge of senility, but still with a zest of life. He wants to make peace, perhaps before dying with his old dog that disappeared and according to a passerby, it's been seen at the entrance of San Julian, a town 200 miles away.
Then, there is Maria, the young woman employed in the local gas station, who evidently is from a neighboring country, perhaps Bolivia. Her best friend comes to tell her she has been named one of the finalists for the grand prize of a local television program. She has an infant and she objects to the trip because she can't leave the station unattended, but her friend insists she should go.
The third brief story is about Roberto. He is a traveling salesman on his way to San Julian to see the young widow he has been courting. It's going to be one of her young children's birthdays and he has ordered a cake in the shape of a football. Along the way to San Julian, doubt assaults Roberto. Suddenly he thinks that Rene, the name of the birthday child might not be a boy. What if it's a girl? Since he has the cake in the car, he wants to change it into something unisex. He is directed to the home of a kind woman who helps him change the football into a cute turtle.
This is basically the premise of this road movie. The emphasis is on Don Justo, who shows an uncanny sense of intelligence. He has seen a lot during his life. His story is the most tender of the three because we realize he will not be among us for a long time. Thus, his reunion with his dear lost dog becomes so poignant. Don Justo receives kindness from everyone he meets, including Roberto, who happens to take Don Justo in his car during the last part of the journey.
Roberto, also arrives at San Julian and finds the widow's house locked. All that traveling, just for nothing! Also, when he sees her return with the children, he sees a younger man with them and thinks all is lost for him. Maria, is seen at the television studio participating in the game in which she will win the top prize, but another contestant will get her to change her mind and give it to her in exchange of a more eye catching gift and money.
At the end we see Don Justo at the rear of the bus that is bringing him home with his dog by his feet. We also see Maria with her baby opening the prize she won in the contest. Roberto too, will find out how wrong he was thinking the young widow has a new interest. Yes, at the end is a happy one for all the three people we meet on the road.
This is, without a doubt, one of the best films to come out of Argentina in years. We watch people without complications take care of their problems in a positive way. The film is uplifting in that it shows us human situations about people we can relate to. They could have been our neighbors, or friends.
Mr. Sorin has extracted wonderful performances from all the people one sees in the film. The best being that of Antonio Benedicto, who steals one's heart with his portrayal of the older man, at the end of life, trying to make amends and be at peace with the world. Javier Lombardo, who plays Roberto, makes a tremendous impression with his effortless take on the salesman. Finally, Javiera Bravo, brings a certain naivete to her role as the unsophisticated woman who is now the center of attention.
Watch this excellent film with an open mind, as it will stay with the viewer for a long time to come.
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