Las Acacias (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner02/12/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 84 mins

Beautifully shot and superbly directed, this is an emotionally engaging drama about human connection that's almost absurdly minimalist in nature and features a trio of terrific performances from its three leads.

What's it all about?
Directed by Pablo Giorgelli (making his debut), Las Acacias stars German de Silva as Ruben, a truck driver who's transporting a load of acacia wood from Paraguay to Buenos Aires. As a favour to his boss, he agrees to give a lift to Jacinta (Hebe Duarte) and, fearing for the peace and quiet of his regular routine, is slightly put out when he realises that Jacinta has her five month old baby Anahi (Nayra Calle Mamani) with her.

Though he briefly considers paying for the two of them to take a bus instead, Ruben eventually relents and the trio embark on the journey in almost total silence. However, Ruben is gradually won over by the impossibly cute Anahi and he eventually begins to bond with Jacinta.

The Good
The performances are excellent: German de Silva has a seemingly gruff and impenetrable exterior but his interaction with the baby is extremely telling and we quickly work out that he has a warm heart. Hebe Duarte (a non-professional actress) is equally good, clearly aching to talk but holding back for fear of jeopardising her lengthy lift, while Nayra Calle Mamani (who receives equal billing with her co-stars on the film's poster) delivers one of the most adorable infant performances in living memory – there's a wonderful moment where she sneezes (On cue? Or happy accident?) that's quite possibly the cutest thing you'll see all year.

The script and structure of the film are almost absurdly minimalist in nature and yet it works perfectly – the characters barely even speak for the first half of the film, so you end up staring at their (wonderful) faces and trying to work out what they're thinking. Then, when the characters finally do reveal tiny, telling details about themselves, the film becomes quietly, powerfully moving as you can feel both Ruben and Jacinta slowly reaching out for human connection.

The Great
The film is beautifully shot (it deservedly won the Camera d'Or in Cannes this year), courtesy of Diego Poleri's gorgeous cinematography, which drinks in the landscape and almost makes you want to drive a truckload of wood from Paraguay to Buenos Aires yourself. Almost.

Worth seeing?
Las Acacias is an impressively directed film that tells a compellingly emotional story with just three characters and the bare minimum of plot and dialogue. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 19/08/2018 02:41

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