Thursday Till Sunday Review

The road-movie genre evolved from a narrative staple in literature in which a hero goes on a quest and, via a series of encounters with people/objects/events, he learns lessons and comes out the other side a better man – one can trace it’s origins back to classics like Homer’s Odyssey. It became a go-to plot-line for screenwriters early on in cinema; as a framing device, a literal journey as a metaphor for one or more characters overcoming a struggle can be incredibly effective. Thursday Till Sunday, however, is one of a growing number of what I’d call anti-road-movies, in which characters go on a trip and the lessons learned are cynical, the experiences leaving them weaker (a classic example of this is Easy Rider).

Director Dominga Sotomayor’s debut film tells the story of a family on a road trip in rural Chile, on their way to check out a plot of land that belongs to the father. There are two stories that run throughout: that of the parents who are seemingly on a martial suicide mission, and that of their daughter who bears witness whilst taking her first steps into the hard world of adulthood.

As this is a story told very much from the point of view of a girl who is in limbo between childhood naivety and adolescent understanding, there are a few moments of joy and beauty amid the gloom. The young girl’s first driving lesson or the siblings riding on the roof of the car through the countryside, for example, are scenes that shimmer with innocent glee. These however are always flavoured with underlying feelings of melancholy, as she slowly comes to realise that her parents are not as happy as they let on.

Sotomayor uses the arid setting of the film as a blank canvas, in which she places little expressive objects and happenings. In one scene, the car gets stuck in a creek and the father’s aggressive revving of the engine perfectly evokes the frustration of the marital rut. There are other moments that work really well in illustrating the different states of childhood and adulthood: one sequence shows the siblings spending a long time making sure they have exactly the same amount of lemonade. It’s touching to see something as simple as this juxtaposed against the falling apart of a marriage.

Barbara Álvarez’s cinematography presents the point of view of the young girl wonderfully. Working in delicious Super 16 Álvarez occasionally verges on the sublime, making fantastic use of depth of field with different layers of action playing off each other.

My only quibble with the film it is that, however beautifully she manages to express herself within the medium, there is nothing new or ground-breaking about what Sotomayor is saying here. That said she clearly has a wonderfully cinematic voice and, once she finds a story worth telling, Sotomayor will certainly be one to watch.

About The Author

Alistair is an up and coming journalist and writer who graduated from The University of Warwick with a BA Hons in Film and Literature in 2013. He's currently based in the South-West of England and a couple of his favorite films (the complete list is overly long and variable) are Raiders of the Lost Ark and Before Sunset.

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