English Title: Intimate Stories
Original Title: Historias mínimas
Country: Argentina, Spain
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Carlos Sorin
Writer: Pablo Solarz
Music: Nicolás Sorin
Cinematography: Hugo Colace
INTIMATE STORIES heralds an auspicious comeback for Argentinian director Carlos Sorin after his decade-long absence, it is his third feature film overall where his previous work is a UK-Argentina co-production, Daniel Day-Lewis vehicle EVERSMILE, NEW JERSEY, way back in 1989.
The multi-threads story unwinds from a provincial area near the Puerto San Julian in the sparsely populated area of Patagonia, Argentina. Adhering to the road-movie formula and committing faithfully under the cinéma-vérité guidance, Sorin’s movie is a quest for love, money and forgiveness, allotted to three major storylines which share the same destination, San Julian.
Don Justo (Benedicti), an old man looking for his dog, Roberto (Lombardo, a professional actor among the amateurs), a loquacious salesman, brings a birthday cake to a child he has never met, only to surprise the woman he tries to court, and Maria (Bravo), a young married woman, who is lucky enough to be chosen by a TV show to participate in a competition for prizes, hopefully, an all-inclusive one-week trip to Brazil or a food processor. There will be little twists in all these three vignettes: Maria’s prize-swapping decision; the reason why Justo lost his dog or in his perspective – the dog left him three years ago; the whimsical attempt of Roberto to make the cake unisex, when he realises he doesn’t know the sex of the the birthday child, but there will be another surprise for him. Nothing groundbreaking but thanks to Sorin’s unpretentious, beguilingly spontaneous approach, and writer Solarz’s keen observation and rumination of common people in their daily hustle-bustle, the philosophy of life is being unhurriedly injected into this lyrical travelogue, which evolves into a wry and affirmative ethnographic essay of the area, plus, the arid landscape of Patagonia itself is presented as a striking character.
Meantime, Justo, Roberto and Maria, their life orbits also have their respective convergence, sometimes, they just pass by without noticing each other’s presences, sometimes they share a short stint of journey, the connection is always there, regardless of our subjective perception. Performance-wise, Lombardo feels over-stretching among non-professionals who are basically playing themselves with a detailed script, and surprisingly Antonio Benedicti, a sympathetic grandfather figure, brings astonishing gravitas in his film debut, his search for the dog “ugly face” is where lies the heart and strength of this humble but scintillating film.