Title: Las Acacias
Directed by: Pablo Giorgelli
Starring: German de Silva
Las Acacias is an intimate portrayal of a man’s evolution; though small and unconcerned about larger issues at hand, it’s very focused on a man’s growth as a human being. Shot almost entirely inside of a lumber-hauling truck, it feels even smaller and uncomfortably claustrophobic. Ruben (German de Silva), a lumberjack and truck driver, is soft-spoken, reserved and he mostly keeps to himself. Strangely, director Pablo Giorgelli averts the archetypes that often plague films of this ilk; where they’re saccharine, over-the-top and usually provide us with an ending that tells us virtually all we will ever need to know about the future of these two people. Giorgelli, instead, chooses a different route. Although this road is less dramatic, it is entirely geared towards a thorough character study. Acacias is leisurely paced, often humorous, and completely and utterly humanistic. It is not without its fair share of problems, but they are difficult to notice when a film is this humane and kind-hearted.
Usually, in films, we are given a series of experiences (mostly profound, always life- altering) that change the landscape of our lives. They almost always change who the characters are on the inside. Las Acacias is no different, except that these experiences are extraordinarily small by comparison. The depth of the change is no different; it’s all working towards the same transformation. In this film, each event is small, almost imperceptible. Each ‘experience’ is more like a look, a gesture or an offering. Everything he does is physical. Ruben is stagnant, stuck in his way of life after many years of driving his truck by himself. When his boss, Fernando, asks him to carry his friend Jacinta (Hebe Duarte) from Paraguay to Buenos Aires, it changes almost nothing, until it’s revealed that she is also carrying her five-month-old daughter, Anahi. Clearly uncomfortable, making faux pas after faux pas, he stumbles through this short journey with Jacinta.
I’ll admit, it may seem difficult for this film to sound like it’s more than the sum of its parts. It may seem like nothing happens, but that couldn’t be further from the truth: a lot happens in such a short running time. Ruben goes back and forth with his decision to take her along. Perhaps one of the best moments in the entire film is when Ruben is resting in the backseat of the truck and Jacinta is sitting up front. She has just gotten off the phone with her mother. She’s crying. Ruben keeps his silence and nothing is explained. Giorgelli has deliberately chosen to leave us out of the loop with what has happened with her. Ruben is too shy to ask–or perhaps it just isn’t his place to do so. It is certainly one of the key moments (maybe even one of the most moving scenes) and the greatest indicator of what type of film we are watching. This is a short, sweet study of a man and a woman’s isolation from the world. In the end, Ruben makes one last courageous gesture, where he stumbles along, trying to find just the right set of words.