The Picture of Life

in 19th Festroia International Film Festival

by Marie-France Dupagne

In 1986 the Argentinean director Carlos Sorin won a Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival for his wonderful first feature film, “La Película del Rey”. Unfortunately his second film “Eternas Sonrisas de New Jersey” shot in 1989 was a huge failure that made him give up cinema. After 13 years of silence, Carlos Sorin makes his come back with a new successful film, “Historias Minimas”. After a Fipresci mention at the San Sebastian Film Festival last year (which meant the film was out of competition for our Fipresci Jury at Troia), it received several prizes worldwide, and in Troia the Gold Dolphin for Best Film from the Official Jury.

The film shows the route of three Argentineans living in the same village of South Patagonia, who for different and personal reasons will be forced to reach San Julian on the same day. The first one is Don Justo, 80 years old. Retired owner of a general store now managed by his son, he has escaped from his custody looking for his missing dog that someone reported seeing in San Julian. The second one is Roberto, 40 years old, salesman. On the same day he drives to San Julian in his old car carrying a cream cake especially ordered for the birthday of the little son of a young widow he hopes to seduce. The third one is Maria Flores, 25 years old. She lives in a house in which the only exit is the window. This very shy woman finds out that she has won a TV contest whose first prize is a multiprocessor. There is no electricity in her house but who cares? So, that very same day and along the very same road, she decides to set out on her journey with her baby to the remote and fascinating world of television. Three people, three generations, three hopes, three destinies. Each one of them travels on his own to San Julian but as usual on the deserted Patagonian roads, their stories and dreams intersect in the scarce stopping point.

With a very elaborated screenplay, the film juggles with these three fates, increased by a very rigorous and subtle construction. The three wonderful characters pass in the frame without meeting together. Carlos Sorin draw up three brilliant portraits of the human being, confirming how much he loves his profound, honest and authentic characters, played by Javier Lombardo, Antonio Benedictis and Javiera Bravo. They are all full of emotion and beauty, as the picture of life. They are coming in and out of the frame just as of each other’s lives. All of them are looking for something not even really knowing what exactly. Redemption for Don Justo? Love for Roberto? Glory for Maria? Or maybe only their fate? And these minimal stories suddenly take all the power of the apparent simplicity.

Shot as a road movie in this amazing no man’s land, the film takes us from this small isolated village to the town of San Julian, that is to say 200 miles of arid and hostile landscape, but in a warm way. All these derisory moments and unusual situations prove to be persuasive and essential. “Historias Minimas” is a very moving story full of generosity and humour that you will always keep in mind.