Director: Pablo Giorgelli
Starring: Germán de Silva, Hebe Duarte, Mayra Calle Mamani
Duration: 82 min.
Rubén is a lonely truck driver who has been driving the motorway between Asunción del Paraguay to Buenos Aires for 30 years carrying wood. However, today's journey will be different.
Las Acacias is the debut feature film from director Pablo Giorgelli, co-written with Salvador Roselli. It premiered in the International Critics' Week section of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival winning the festival's Caméra d'Or award for Best First Feature Film.
A quick piece of advice, if you are planning on watching this film, for best results stop reading now, and don't even watch the trailer. It is definitely best to go into it knowing as little as possible.
A slow moving road movie unlike any I've ever seen, Las Acacias unfolds almost entirely within the near silent cab of a truck along the 1,500 kilometer route between Asunción and Buenos Aires. Driven by Rubén (Germán de Silva), a steely middle aged trucker who reluctantly offers a lift to a young woman, (Hebe Duarte) and her five month old baby (Nayra Calle Mamani) as a favor for his boss.
Giorgelli captures their journey with a deft touch. Using no music, a minimal amount of dialog, and close quarters cinematography with just the right variety of angles so that it doesn't feel claustrophobic, he crafts a pleasing story from an exceedingly simple scenario. One that plays out with a number of tiny but wonderful moments that come to life with some remarkably natural performances from the entire cast. I don't know how many takes it required to pull it off, but even the spontaneous reactions of the baby seemed always to be perfectly on cue.
It's a film that subverts all of our expectations of a road movie. There are no unexpected detours or break-downs, no humorous encounters with quirky side characters. No throwaway anecdotes that reveal great significance at the end.
It does require a certain amount of patience from the viewer, because despite it's short length, the director does an incredible job of recreating the experience of riding in that truck for several hours. Fortunately he knows just when to give us a break from the monotony of the highway, with well timed stops along the way.
By the end, it does feel as if we've been taken on a long journey, but it is a genuinely rewarding one. Not a profound masterpiece, but a fine debut that is well deserving of the festival accolades it has received. Pablo Giorgelli is surely a name to watch out for in the future.
— Bonjour Tristesse