6th Brazilian Film Week 2012 sponsored by the Brazilian Embassy, Washington D.C.
Location: E Street Cinema 555 11th Street
I really enjoyed this film and was surprised that a Brazilian, Charly Braun, produced, wrote and directed a movie that would make me want to revisit Uruguay! Beyond the Road, just as the title suggests, is a road trip. But it isn’t the hackneyed working out of that one well-worn formula. The film is imbued with charm and freshness and it is obvious that Braun has great affection for his characters.
Santiago, a young Argentine from a wealthy family, takes a boat to Montevideo to claim land willed to him by his parents who tragically died in a car crash four years earlier. On his way out of the capital he stops his car and picks up Juliette, a young Belgian woman he eyed on the boat who is heading in the same direction on foot lugging a wheeled suitcase.
Santiago was an investment banker in New York, but now he is looking for something else in life, he doesn’t know exactly what. Juliette is hoping to reignite a relationship with an Uruguayan leader of a commune she met in Costa Rica. Santiago and Juliette find comfort in each other’s company as they spend time with an assortment of wealthy cool jet-setters, some of whom are members of Santiago’s well-connected family. Along the way Juliette learns that her hope of taking up with her former lover are in vain — he lives with a girlfriend of longstanding. Santiago and Juliette have a playful but chaste relationship until well into the film. We are not surprised when they become lovers.
Braun, who attended film school at Emerson College in Boston, manages to combine American and French influences into this breezy film played against dramatic Uruguayan landscapes. Not a word of Portuguese was spoken in it. The dialogue is mostly in English and Spanish, with a smattering of French. The atmosphere made me think of one of those Merchant/Ivory films in which Brits fall in love with Italy, except that in this case it’s an Argentine and a Belgian falling in love with Uruguay.