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August Evening follows an aging undocumented farm worker named Jaime and his young, widowed daughter-in-law, Lupe, as their lives are thrown into upheaval. Lupe is more of a daughter to Jaime than his own children, and the two try to stick together... but change is inevitable. Written by
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Jaime, an aging undocumented worker in Texas, and Lupe, his attentive daughter-in-law, must decide on their future after Jaime's wife dies.
"August Evening" is a slow-paced, quiet family drama set in the community of Mexican immigrants in San Antonio. Jaime, an undocumented worker in his late sixties, lives in a spare house in the countryside with his wife Maria and their young widowed daughter-in-law, Lupe. The story is set in motion when Maria dies suddenly. Lupe insists on staying with Jaime and taking care of him, but the two of them can't manage alone and begin an odyssey of visits--first with Jaime's son Victor and his family, and then with his daughter Alice and her American husband. Neither of these really works out, and the two of them finally return to their own home.
Although Jaime enjoys Lupe's loving attention, he knows he is getting older, and he worries about her future. He wishes that--four years now after her husband's death--she could find someone to love and settle down with, someone who would take care of her. But Lupe is stubborn and quite devoted to Jaime--more so, it seems, than either of his own children--and she resists forming an new relationship, even when she meets a kind, interested young chap, Luis.
The film is told gently and slowly, with an unobtrusive musical score and many quiet scenes of domestic rural and urban life. The cinematography strikes me as a Latino homage to Yasujiro Ozu, whose seasonal titles this film's title echoes. Ozu frequently tells stories about aging parents whose concern for their children's future plays against their joy at having them to themselves. And Ozu's slow, quiet meditative movement from scene to scene is echoed here. There is also an echo here of the classic Marcello Mastroianni film "Son Tutti Bene" ("Everybody's Fine"), in which an aging widowed father from rural southern Italy travels to visit each of his children in the north after his wife dies. All these films have a quiet slow-paced intensity.
In her film debut, Veronica Loren is understated, charming and natural. Pedro Castaneda gives an honest and nuanced performance as a kind and taciturn worker capable of deep feeling. The ensemble as a whole works well together and creates a meditative, convincing picture of rural migrants from Mexico who preserve the sweetness of the culture from which they came. The emotional resonance builds scene by scene, and leads to a final sense of triumph and acceptance.
A wonderful cinematographic gem, with marvelous photography, a keenly sensitive script, and wonderful acting.
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