Back in 2004, Argentine actor Rodrigo de la Serna first introduced himself to global audiences alongside Gael García Bernal in that most epic of Latin American road movies – Diarios de motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries). Now, after a decade of critically-acclaimed roles in Argentine film and television, de la Serna is back on the road, and this time he’s nobody’s sidekick.
The film in question is Camino a La Paz, the debut feature from commercial director Francisco Varone, which finds de la Serna as a young newlywed who starts working as a for-hire driver to help out with his precarious economic situation. His first big job involves a cross-continental trip to La Paz, and a very particular older gentleman played by Ernesto Suárez, who desperately wishes to find his brother in the two mile-high Bolivian capital. Along the way, this odd couple clashes over every minute detail, picks up a couple of stragglers, and foreseeably develops a deep fondness as they discover new things about themselves and each other.
The film also has an element of the prototypical journey of cultural understanding, with the small detail that Ernesto Suárez’s character also happens to be a devout Muslim who prays five times daily. The whole thing is filmed with an attractive, if rather conventional, low contrast visual style, and Varone seems to make good use of the drastically changing landscapes that characterize the 1,700-mile, 34-hour sojourn from Buenos Aires to La Paz. If you’re a fan of quirky indie road movies with a heart, and breathtaking South American landscapes, this will probably be a film for you.
Camino a La Paz premieres in Argentine theaters on January 7. No word yet if it will be making its way stateside. Keep an eye out.