A refreshing departure from the celestial, caricatured portrayals of emotion that contemporary cinema often serves up in one nauseating wave after another, Las Acacias gives us a delicate and considered, almost silent, portrayal of one human relationship.
We follow Rubén (German de Silva), a solitary lumber hauler, as he trundles from Paraguay to Buenos Aires accompanied – to his initial irritation – by Jacinta (Hebe Duarte) and her young child. The opening scenes -- and indeed the whole film -- proceed in near silence, with the laboured churning of the engine providing the only audible colour. As the journey progresses, Jacinta, and more reluctantly Rubén, become more comfortable with each other in the rusting confines of the truck cab, and slowly their relationship changes.
While the story chronologically follows a single journey, it would be misleading to cast Las Acacias as a “road” story with any kind of lazy self-discovery existential bent. It focuses exclusively on the burgeoning relationship between the characters, with the trip itself merely providing the proximity needed for it to develop. Indeed, shot largely from inside the cab, the only shots of the road itself are as it unpeels behind through the side-mirrors. The roads behind Rubén and Jacinta themselves are alluded to more than the one ahead; with cryptic references to both of their pasts littered throughout their interchanges.
The beauty of the dialogue is in its scarcity, as the audience is forced to make their own inferences as to the sad, perhaps ignominious pasts of Jacinta and Rubén. The storyline has an earthy realism to it, underpinned not by grandiose crescendos of a downloadable soundtrack, but by the guttural retching of the gearbox.
The absence of an overtly tangible storyline obviously could render this a fairly empty cinematic experience, though the considered performances of the cast and subtle direction mean that it is far from it. The shuffling awkwardness of the final scene has a real human poignancy that could have easily been smothered by layering an unnaturally dramatic gloss on the whole affair: by saying very little, it lets us paint as much, or as little, into the story as we choose.
Las Acacias balances expertly feelings of loneliness and affection; it is not a love story per se, but it is a surprisingly optimistic film which portrays the baser yearning for human company in a way that everyone should relate to.
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Las Acacias Trailer