out of Five
Running time: 94
Impressively directed and superbly written, this is an emotionally engaging road-movie/coming-of-age-drama with stunning camerawork and a terrific central performance from young Santi Ahumada.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by 28 year old Dominga Sotomayor, Thursday Till Sunday (De Jueves a Domingo, original title fans) is set in present day Chile and stars Santi Ahumada as 10 year old Lucia, who sets off on a four day family road trip across the Chilean countryside with her father (Francisco Perez-Bannen as Fernando), mother (Paola Giannini as Ana) and younger brother Manuel (Emiliano Freifeld). Along the way, the family meet a series of different characters and Lucia gradually becomes aware of her parents' impending separation, despite their obvious intentions to hide their situation from the children.
Newcomer Santi Ahumada (apparently a friend of the director's younger sister) is terrific as Lucia, delivering a sharply observed performance that is thoroughly convincing, whether she's boredly looking out of the window, squabbling with her brother or excitedly swapping email addresses with two older hitchhiking girls that Fernando picks up. Emiliano Freifeld is equally good as her innocently charming younger brother (particularly when repeatedly asking Lucia if he can be her slave) and there's strong support from both Giannini and Perez-Bannen.
Sotomayor's assured direction presents a strongly subjective child's-eye view of the adult world that is extremely effective (in that way, the film recalls the recent Beasts of the Southern Wild). The film is also all the more powerful for the simplicity of its concept; there's relatively little dialogue (the parents try not to discuss their issues in front of the children) but the emotional impact of every glance and gesture is keenly felt, especially when Lucia begins picking up on the fact that something is wrong.
The film is also beautifully shot, with Bárbara Álvarez's cinematography making strong use of the Chilean landscape throughout, particularly with regard to the framing whenever the family stop to explore their surroundings. There are also a number of nice touches that will strike an instant chord with anyone who remembers similar family trips, such as Manuel petulantly shouting ‘I want to go to the beach!’ or the kids playing travel games.
On top of that, Sotomayor orchestrates several memorable and affecting sequences, most notably the kids being allowed to ride on the roof rack; we see the joyful expression on Manuel's face and then realise that Lucia is looking down through the windscreen where her parents are clearly arguing about something she can't hear.
Thursday Till Sunday (De Jueves a Domingo) is a superbly directed, emotionally engaging drama that marks writer-director Sotomayor out as a talent to watch. Recommended.
Thursday Till Sunday (De Jueves A Domingo) (tbc)