Dir/scr: Pablo Trapero.Arg-Braz-Fr-Ger-Sp. 2004. 103mins.
Put Robert Altman's TheWedding on wheels, give it an Argentine passport and send it rolling1,000km out of Buenos Aires - and it would look pretty much like PabloTrapero's latest feature Rolling Family.
While it may be less flashyand more populist than Altman's work, it still has a large cast of characters -here a family of 13 - inter-relating during an arduous car journey. Along theway, small but significant crises sporadically erupt, helping the audiencebetter understand the peculiarities of each character.
It all comes together in afresh and painstakingly assembled fresco, crammed with minute humorousobservations and displaying sympathy for each subject.
While the absence of aclearly defined plot or overriding theme may detract from its immediatecommercial appeal, Rolling Family still deserves to become a festival favourite and arthouse item. InTrapero's native Argentina it has taken around $0.1m; after playing festivalsin Toronto and Rio it opens in Paris in early December.
The family of venerablematriarch Emilia (Chironi) have gathered around for her 84th birthday when heryounger sister calls, inviting her to not only attend her niece's wedding butalso to be her godmother.
Emilia declares that theentire family will travel cross country for the occasion and literallyblackmails all four generations to accompany her.
The clan thus packthemselves into a tired camping van, among them Emilia's two daughters, Marta(Liliana Capurro) and Claudia (Ruth Dobel), their husbands, their children, agrandchild and a stray dog that someone has adopted.
Along the way the party hasto endure various hazards including an overheating van, a fleabag hotel, dentalemergencies, uninvited guests, various romantic liaisons and complications andEmilia's rising blood pressure.
None of these incidentsplays out like a major tragedy; rather they are sparks flying from the frequentfriction between members of the same family who are squeezed into too confined aspace for a brief period of time.
While Rolling Familymaintains the ironic tone of Trapero's first two award winning films, MundoGrua (1999) and El Bonaerense (2002), its social context is lessimportant, giving way to his chronicle of the personal.
Trapero dedicates the filmto his own family and, indeed, uses his non-professional grandmother inthe role of Emilia. The picture startsand ends with close-ups of her face, while one of the magical moments has her tellingher entire brood, as they drive down the road, a folk legend about anunfaithful wife that is not unrelated to events around them.
The rest of the large castis delightfully natural and unaffected, each at ease with his or her role
Carlos Nieto's mostlyhandheld camera employs tight angles. In doing so it almost look down thethroats of the characters, filling up the screen with their presence andleaving them no space to move or breathe before they stumble into anotherfamily member.
Nervous editing and densesoundtrack enhance even more the notion of family as a place where a person canrarely be alone for any length of time.
Prod cos: Matanza Cine, Lumina Films, Paradis Film, PandoraFilm Prod, VideofilmesProducoes Artisticas
Int'l sales: Buena Onda Films
Exec prod: Martine Gusman, Hugo Castrofau
Prod: Pablo Trapero
Cine: Guillermo Nieto
Ed: Nicolas Goldbart
Music: Leon Gieco
Main cast: Liliana Capurro,Graciana Chironi, Ruth Dobel, Federico Esquerro, Bernardo Forteza, Laura Glave,Leila Gomez, Nicolas Lopez, Sol Ocampo, Marianela Pedano, Carlos Resta, RaulVinona