Dir/scr: Alicia Scherson. Chile, 2009. 104min.
This light, bittersweet but distinctly loose reflection on a midlife crisis shows Alicia Scherson in the throes of ‘second film syndrome’: her debut Play was enthusiastically received at multiple festivals but while Tourists is well-written and nicely-shot, it suffers in comparison - if only because the novelty has worn off.
Scherson once again deals with uneasy romantic relationships - her keen character observations, ironic touches leavened with a hint of pathos are all still in place, set this time against the natural backdrop of a national park. Talky, and boasting only adequate performances, this is an unexpected choice for the Rotterdam Tiger competition which usually focuses on much edgier fare. Tourists will fit better in less demanding programs and with some tightening of loose ends, there could be a chance for a wider release.
Carla (Kuppenheim) and her husband Joel (Alonso) are a seemingly stressed couple on their way from Santiago to a summer resort. When she informs him of a miscarriage she’d previously forgotten to tell him about, he waits for her to go out of the car to relieve herself, and drives off leaving her stranded on the highway.
She reaches the next diner, leaves her husband a message on his mobile phone, and when he does not respond, accepts the invitation of a hearty Chilean truck driver to take her part of the way home. Though her intention is to go back to Santiago, she allows herself to be convinced by the other hitchhiker on the truck, a Norwegian boy named Ulrik (Noguera), to join him on a trekking expedition in the National Park, where she will stay in his company and share his tent for a few days.
There are plenty of conversations between Scherson’s various characters, most of them dealing with the lead character, Carla, who is at a crucial point in her life and wonders what maturity really means for her. The spectacular landscape creates an ambience which helps to release the characters’ natural restraint.
Pleasant throughout but never really involving, Scherson’s plot lacks a strong, compelling core. The gentle flight of fancy between Carla and Ulrik is too slim and under-developed to hold it all together. Aline Kuppenheim’s natural performance in the lead seems just a bit too relaxed for a character who can’t make up her mind throughout and Diego Noguera never really develops his character well enough for the twist in his story to matter much one way or another. Technical credits are satisfactory, with Miguel Hormabazal’s night-sound textures particularly notable.
La Ventura Ltd.
Paraiso Production Diffusion
La Ventura Ltd.
Ricardo de Angelis