The feature directorial debut for both Cecilia Atan and Valeria Pivato, who also wrote the script along with Martin Salinas, surely heralds in two major cinematic voices.
The Desert Bride is, at one level, a gentle love story about two very ordinary, middle-aged people. On another level, it is a portrait of the changing social climate in Argentina. And it fulfils both of those roles without preaching, and with nothing but subtlety.
Paulina Garcia is sensational as Teresa, a woman who has worked as a live-in housekeeper and nanny to a wealthy family in Buenos Aires, but who is now being sent to work for their relatives in San Juan. This necessitates her taking a long bus trip across the desert, where she meets local travelling salesman Gringo, portrayed with warmth and utter authenticity by Claudio Rissi. Garcia is one of the greatest actresses on screen today, and the growth in the world-market for Latino films will surely see her star shine even brighter.
Teresa’s is a common story in many parts of South America: a woman who has dedicated her life to raising someone else’s children, and who, once excess to requirements, loses her connection with the child she has come to love, and the life she is used to. She is wandering, slightly lost in the desert, both literally and metaphorically.
The love story between Teresa and Gringo is told with truth and humour. There is not a hint of predictability or corn in this water-tight script. And the chemistry between Garcia and Rissi is so believable, it is almost like watching a documentary.
Sergio Armstrong’s cinematography adds even more depth and beauty, without falling into any visual clichés, ably assisted by Mariela Ripodas’s assured art direction. Original music by Leo Sujatovich is beautiful and yet unobtrusive.
This film gets under your skin. It stays with you days after seeing it. It is easy to see how it won Best Film at the Toulouse Film Festival this year, and was also an official selection for Un Certain Regard at Cannes.
This is what film-making should be.
The Desert Bride is showing as part of the Cine Latino Film Festival at Palace Nova Cinema, and next screens on November 26th and November 29th.
Check out the film’s official site here.
Full Adelaide program for Cine Latino here.