Director: Pablo Giorgelli
Cast: Hebe Duarte, German De Silva
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You know those long awkward car journeys you use to have as a kid in a foreigner’s car, crossing the border from Paraguay to Argentina? Las Acacias is one of those. At 90 minutes, it’s a slow-paced road trip, but one that soon finds it own charming gear.
Jacinta (Hebe Duarte) is heading to Buenos Aires to see her family. Reluctantly, Ruben (German De Silva) agrees to give her a lift as a favour to his boss – and then finds out that she has a baby too.
As the film bumps along, the two inevitably become close, but this is far from the romanticised road trips of Hollywood. They barely even talk to each other. What dialogue there is (about 15 minutes of the total runtime) is short and sparse, but the chemistry between the couple is tangible, even while director Pablo Giorgelli is busy looking out the window at the sunlit trees that drift past.
Confined to his truck’s cab, De Silva is gruff and distant at first. In contrast, newcomer Duarte is a light presence, all cute smiles and likeable expressions. They’re solid, understated turns, but both are almost upstaged by the adorable Nayra Calle Mamani, a five-month-old actress who brings a large dollop of emotion to the tale.
A natural performer, she stares at Ruben intently, smiles slowly, then breaks the fourth wall altogether by looking at the camera. At one point, she sneezes, stealing the entire scene. No wonder Ruben goes from grumpy lorry driver to cuddly teddy bear in a single journey. Even his stubble seems to soften by the film’s second half.
Giorgelli’s cheerful colour palette, steady camera and long, slow takes settle into a calming rhythm, which absorbs you more the longer it lasts. The trip won’t stay with you forever, but while you’re sitting in the back seat, Las Acacias is something something something car metaphor a lot better than Due Date.
Originally published in 2011.