Las Acacias (2011)

A simple tale, shot beautifully, that unfolds almost dialogue free from behind the characterful, pleasingy lived in faces of it’s two leads with a unique charm all of it’s own. We should leave it there but EBFS won’t leave you short changed so…..  Essentially a road movie two hander, Las Acacias is no frills, slow burn story telling. No score, no soundtrack, no sweeping camera histrionics and definately no explosions or vampires (thanks, Futurama). What we get instead, is an oppurtunity to get to know Ruben and Jacinta even as they get to know each other.

Set, for the most part, in the cabin of an HGV transporting timber from Ascuncion to Buenos Aires, Ruben (German de Silva) has been charged by his boss to escort Jacinta (Hebe Duarte) and to his horror, her nine month old daughter, Aniha, to her cousin’s house in the Argentinian capital. The opening scenes are played out in near silence as we are introduced to Ruben and his lifestyle, making the disruption of a mother and daughter to him all the more obvious. Openly hostile at first, Ruben accepts the changes to his routine ungracefully, making Jacinta wait for hours whilst he eats, seething inside when he realises that, morally, he shouldn’t smoke in the cabin with Aniha present. Gradually, painstakingly, a relationship forms between the two (three), a relationship born of both necessity and human nature. Here, in his first fictional work, Pablo Giorgelli shows his skill, finding performances within each actor that feel natural in the minutae whilst painting broader strokes about the way, we, as a race, function with each other. It isn’t in our nature to be willfully evil, Las Acacias seems to be saying. Giorgelli has us wanting to believe and for the most part he succeeds. Heartwarming without ever tripping over into sugar coated pill territories, this is a major work played out in the smallest of environments.

This film’ s unique selling point, if it needs one, is South America itself. Paraguay and Argentina slide past in the background, dusky and warm, seemingly always at dawn or twilight. Las Acacias justifiably picked up the Camera D’or at Cannes and for a picture set on basically one road, in one moving location this is a remarkable acheivement. The director, Pablo Giorgelli and his cinematographer, Diego Poleri, should be applauded for painstakingly crafting the elegant story and for marrying it to such understated visual flare.

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