Thursday Till Sunday

Film Title: thursday till sunday

Director: Dominga Sotomayor Castillo

Starring: Santi Ahumada, Emiliano Freifeld, Paola Giannini , Francisco Pérez-Bannen

Genre: Drama

Running Time: 96 min

Fri, Apr 5, 2013, 15:20

   

It’s still dark when a Santiago couple bundle their luggage and two children into the car for a family holiday thatwill bring them to northern Chile, to a parcel of land that the father has inherited. Between unenthusiastic games of I Spy and overly polite exchanges, 10-year-old Lucia comes to realise that all is not well between her parents.

The parents put on a show of unity, yet something is off. It’s not just the confinement of the vehicle and the tedious drive: when Lucia and her younger, blissfully unaware brother get to ride on the roof of the car, she can see the adults bickering inside.

Mostly, we suspect, this couple are beyond bickering. There’s an overwhelming sense of emptiness about this journey, a sense that is reflected in the desert landscape around them: “I don’t like when it looks like that,” notes a disturbed Lucia, “ . . . round.” Excursions outside the car only amplify her worst fears.

Dominga Sotomayor Castillo’s handsome debut feature charts her young heroine’s journey through Santi Ahumada’s impressively natural performance and tiny details. The adults mainly appear as obscured profiles from the backseat. Partially overheard fragments of conversation provide a slow drip feed of pointers to marital strife.

Theoretically, the film’s minimal movements mask a life-shattering revelation; in practice, Thursday Till Sunday is hugely overstretched at 95 minutes. An unnatural adherence to naturalism doesn’t simply obscure the drama; it cancels it out completely. The sun-baked starkness brings certain late-nineties1990s Kiarostami titlesmovies to mind; the inertia does not.

There are things to admire here. Bárbara Álvarez’s ( The Headless Woman ) cinematography picks out a colourful palate against a desolate landscape. The performances are appositely delicate. The director’s screenplay and execution is most assured: subtle and shifting allegiances between mummy and daddy are beautifully handled;Lucia’s increasing concern and confusion manifest as displaced sulks and silences.

In the end, however, the director succeeds a little too well at recreating the boredom the backseat passenger on what turns out to be a disappointing weekend trip. Thursday Till Sunday ? It certainly feels it.