Sunday, February 08, 2015

Las niñas Quispe (2013)

Alan Smithee doesn't fully understand how films get distributed (or not distributed) or why many worthy films are shown at festivals and then never seen again, so he makes a point of seeing films that he suspects will never get shown again in his lifetime, such as Las niñas Quispe (2013), which required travel to an urban center. Was it worth it? The short answer is yes. Coincidentally, so is the long answer.

What makes one film about rural people going about their daily lives a total bore while another rivets the attention? One possibility: Director Sebastián Sepúlveda began in documentary film, and though this film never feels like a documentary, it has all the strengths of the genre.

Some specific elements that satisfy: Lucía, the middle sister, has whatever is the opposite of a winning personality, and she's a dark pleasure to watch. The landscape is beautifully filmed, and many shots soak it in, but they always stop just short of tedium. The pace is slow but steady, and the conclusion both surprises and feels right. It packs a wallop.

Alan Smithee was surprised to discover that Catalina Saavedra, who plays Lucía, is a Chilean actress with a long list of television and film credits – he thought she'd wandered into the film from a nearby hut.

Lucía on the right, with her winning smile

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