POR EL CAMINO, which was awarded with the best direction prize at the Rio Intl. Film Festival, is a poignant love story, narrated in a very contemporary fashion while also portraying a country (Uruguay) that has seldom been depicted in world cinema. Santiago (Esteban Feune de Colombi, charismatic and precise), in his late 20's, arrives in Uruguay in search of a land he inherited from his parents, who died tragically some years prior. Upon arrival he bumps into, and is intrigued by, a Belgian hippiesh girl his same age, Juliette (Jill Mulleady, mysterious and alluring). He offers her a ride north but along the way they loose themselves in breathtaking scenery and the many stops along the way. Organically, they develop a relationship of crescent tenderness while meeting local characters, who we don't really know if are played by actors or real people. Using a very simple narrative structure, the film's strength resides on a sense of truth that is harder and harder to find in contemporary filmmaking. The clever usage of documentary aesthetics and the natural way with which the protagonists meet people along the road further increases our involvement with the story to a point that it really feels like we are observing actual life, devoid of the manipulations so common in the so called "contemporary art-house world cinema". Furthermore, the film provides a rare opportunity of looking into the more well-off strata of South Americans, while not doing so in a judgmental way. As a matter of fact, the film clearly portrays its wide array of characters (of different ages, beliefs and social classes) in a tender and impartial way. Featuring an amazing soundtrack, a mix of local Uruguayan music and more known artists (such as Radiohead and Sigur Ros) and magnificent locations, this minimalist road movie is a treat to watch and to listen to. The audience at the packed screening at the Rio Festival where I saw the film seemed to enjoy the experience as well!
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