Las Acacias Review

4/5

Following its success at Cannes earlier this year, Las Acacias has gone on to impress film festival audiences the world round. For a directorial debut, Pablo Giorgelli creates an astonishing piece of cinema that isn’t afraid to break modern conventions.

The film follows Rubén (Germán de Silva), a truck driver who has spent many years travelling the lonely roads of South America. On one of these trips he agrees to take a woman, Jacinta (Hebe Duarte), from Paraguay to Buenos Aires as a favour for a friend. What he doesn’t realise is that Jacinta has also brought her five-month-old baby, Anahí (Nayra Calle Mamani) along with her.

As a man who has clearly spent a lot of time on his own, it is evident that Rubén is not overly impressed by his new companions. However, what ensues is a touching portrayal of a budding relationship that affords the piece an undeniable realism.

The overall performances of the cast are spellbinding. As a well known character actor, de Silva is pitch-perfect in his transformation from tired cynic to a lonely man in need of familial affection. As a first performance, Duarte upholds a natural believability that allows the viewer to truly accept her as the character she plays. This is no doubt helped by the incredible chemistry she shares with the young Mamani. It is hard to believe that the two are not really mother and daughter, as the bond between the pair is astonishing.

Although the film contains very little dialogue, the facial movements and expressions of the cast are sufficient to depict the exact feelings and desires of their characters. Giorgelli’s decision to keep conversation to a minimum is an audacious move, but one which undeniably works. It mirrors reality in the way strangers have a tendency to be quiet and defensive towards each other when they first meet, but who gradually relax as time goes by. As Rubén and Jacinta become increasingly comfortable in each others company, a warmth begins to develop and an obvious chemistry blossom.

The film’s cinematography is another point worthy to note. Predominately featuring two camera angles – either on de Silva or Duarte – there is a definite emphasis that all the attention of the film is focused on these two characters. As blurred images of desolate landscapes drift by in each scene, these two remain in focus. Both are clearly troubled by a past they would rather put behind them, and this is no less portrayed in the way the film is shot. Focusing on the present, it is as though outside the cab of the truck everything else ceases to exist. For the short time the three are together, that is all that matters.

No doubt the slow pace of the film will deter those in need of something more visually stimulating, its attention to detail and well thought out comparisons to real life, make it a fantastic debut. There is a certain charm found in Giorgelli’s piece that is rarely seen in conventional cinema; it allows the viewer to reflect on the lead characters circumstance and relate to it in a way that is not often possible in fiction.

Las Acacias will be screened at the Cameo from Dec 9th.

Taken from The Student, published online Wed Dec 7th 2011.

Five Great Cinemas in Edinburgh

Main Screen at the Cameo

As the culture capital of Scotland, Edinburgh offers a huge variety of options for the avid cinephile whether it be cheap action films or classic art house flicks. Catering for all manner of tastes and preferences, it has enough diversity to appeal to anyone’s needs. But which venues are actually worth visiting?

Edinburgh University Film Society

Playing three films a week ranging from new releases to classics and art house flicks, Edinburgh University Film Society offers a wide spectrum of movies best seen on the big screen. Including a large outdoor screen for summer events and a year long membership at only £15 for students and £30 for non-students, the Film Society is a great place to watch quality films with the added benefit of a friendly atmosphere which promotes discussions post-screenings.

Brass Monkey
Potentially the single greatest idea ever conceived; a bar that also serves as a cinema, Brass Monkey offers free screenings every day of various cult films and classics at 3pm. Retaining a relaxed atmosphere perfect for nursing a hangover or simply bunking off work, it remains one of the best kept secrets of Edinburgh.

Dominion
Initially opening as a single screen cinema in 1938 but now containing four screens, the Dominion offers the most comfortable viewing for the Edinburgh cinema goer. A family owned and run independent cinema, it aims to provide luxurious entertainment through its use of leather recliners and sofas making it more akin to one’s living room than a cinema – even serving complimentary Pringles. It’s only drawback – it’s situated on the south side of Edinburgh so somewhat out of the way for some.

Cameo
A quintessential feature of Edinburgh, the Cameo has been around since 1914 when it was then called the King’s cinema. An independent arts cinema that showcases a variety of films from Hollywood classics to foreign films and ground breaking documentaries, it also plays host to E4’s Slackers Club where students get to see previews of upcoming films absolutely free a couple of days before they are released. Appearing briefly in Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist and attended religiously by its dedicated regulars, it is somewhat of an icon for Edinburgh’s cinematic history.

Filmhouse
With a more varied programme than any of the other Edinburgh cinemas, the Filmhouse offers the most diverse option for watching films. The home of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, it serves as one of the leading cultural entertainment venues the capital has to offer. An old listed church, it features three screens that play everything from the latest international releases to local and older films stretching to 16mm and video and digital work. This combined with a huge scope of guests giving talks to supplement screenings and boasting a terrific café/bar, this cinema is truly unmissable.

Taken from Itchy, published online.