This was one I missed at LFF this year (it won the Sutherland Award for most original first feature) so was glad of the chance to catch it this week. It’s the debut film from Argentinian director Pablo Giorgelli, the story of a lorry driver traveling from Paraguay to Buenos Aires who gives a lift to a woman and (unwittingly) her four month old daughter as a favour to his boss. That’s about it for storyline, don’t expect Love Actually.
The pair don’t say much – the first part of the journey is spent in frosty silence as Ruben, the driver, pretty much ignores Jacinta and her child, not offering her so much as a sip of water and leaving her to lug her bags into the lorry by herself. At one point he considers paying for them to go on the bus rather than put up with them any longer. Ruben doesn’t even ask her name until about halfway through the film but it’s a significant moment when he does. Prompted by his inability to remain grumpy in the face of an exceptionally adorable baby, the silences gradually become less uncomfortable and more companionable – when Ruben opens up about his own son, who he hardly knows, you get the feeling this is something he hasn’t talked about for a long time. By the final scene, which is as halting and tender as the rest of the film, you’re in no doubt of what has passed between them.
It’s one of the most honest portrayals of falling in love that you’ll see on screen – the anxiety, insecurity and fear of new relationships are all reflected here and despite the long scenes where nothing happens, you can’t take your eyes off the two of them. Well. three of them – the baby puts in a great performance too. And there’s something about those logs Ruben is hauling that we see mainly in his rearview mirror. They are always watching – silent and stoic witnesses to the life changing events going on up front.