"The Delay"

in 34th Havana International Festival of the New Latinamerican Cinema

by Ana Busquets

In ancient civilizations, among the American Indians or Eskimos, when a person reached an age he or she could not contribute to family support, or take care of their own, they simply withdrew to a lonely place to die, avoiding becoming a burden for the family and the community. It was the era in which humans lived little, and life expectancy was very short. But the world has changed, for better and for worse. Today the life expectancy of humans, at least in those slightly better-off countries, is quite high when compared with the early days of humankind.

Rodrigo Pla is a filmmaker known well among us. We have seen him before in Havana with important movies, and for this 34th edition of the Havana Film Festival he has brought to the Cuban audience this movie based on a globally sensitive topic.

The Delay (La demora), made with an evident economy of resources, gains advantages precisely from these material limitations to achieve cinematographic expression that takes these elements as a visual support that, for sure, in our day to day, would appear to us as the simplest ones.

It is in this way that the filmmaker manages to put us afloat by the better or worse things that the human being could shelter, regarding those who already are at the end of the way, after having dedicated their life to form a family.

Maria (Roxana Blanco) is a single woman, a patient mother of three children, who besides taking care of her father, is at the beginning of a gathering blow through the process produced by Alzheimer’s disease. The life of this woman reaches the limit; the daily burden, the attention to the children, the underpaid work, the denial of help from her sister: all this leads her to take the decision of searching for a home where they could take care of her father. But this is not an easy task. There are few vacancies and the applications exceed the possibilities of the few institutions in charge of these issues. Then, the turning point appears.

It is exactly here, at this moment, that we see what could be qualified as the loving proof in the subject matter of the movie, and, in addition, the proof of how a filmmaker can be wise only if he is able to hit on the exact point in a topic that might have collapsed under an unnecessary excess of dialogue, in pure sentimentalism or in the worst of cruelties. The director stays on the right side of melodrama masterfully, amid much tension and repentant feeling, between so much good will — good will that appears always when we least expect it. Amid so much drama, love emerges. La Demora (La demora) manages to leave us, after 84 minutes of uncertainty, with the feeling of having been witness to a beautiful movie.

Edited by Carmen Gray