We all know how romantic movies end: “Wedding March” plays from some church organ, a precious little girls tosses some rose petals, a priest stands at a podium, “I now pronounce you man and wife,” kisses, joyful applause, etc. etc. It’s a beautiful dream that, despite its unfailing predictability, can choke up even the manliest of film writers, but truth is — it’s a model that’s increasingly irrelevant for a generation that tends more toward casual encounters and “it was good while it lasted” fly-by-night relationships. Perhaps there’s even some value to this way of living intimacy in the moment, free from personal and societal expectations, pushed along by little more than passion and a vague sense of connection.
So call Costa Rican director Paz Fábrega’s latest feature, Viaje, a love story for the millennial generation. A small, intimate piece three years in the making, Viaje follows Pedro and Luciana as they embark upon a fleeting but passionate affair after a casual encounter at a party leaves them yearning for just a little more. More specifically, Luciana makes the impetuous decision to follow Pedro on a three week research expedition into Costa Rica’s Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja, without so much as remembering his name. Let’s go ahead and admit that we’ve all been there to some degree or another, and rather than exploring the emptiness or superficiality that we often associate with this sort of fling, Fábrega delves into those subtle shades of our personalities that we reveal when there’s no sense of commitment or future, only the here and now.
Shot in low contrast black and white on the micro-budget stalwart Canon 5D camera, the cinematography keeps the characters front and center, favoring medium shots that keep the two short-term lovers tightly circumscribed within the frame or closeups that exemplify their distance. The performances by Fernando Bolaños and Kattia González convincingly recreate that peculiar combination of intimacy and unfamiliarity that characterize this type of encounter, as they kiss, laugh, and carry on gleefully but with a marked awkwardness typically absent in relationships of more depth.
The music also contributes considerably to the emotional flow of the film, with tico indie sensation Ale Fernández’s multifarious score oscillating between minimalist piano and more folksy arrangements that underlie Pedro and Luciana’s sentimental journey. In all, Viaje strikes one as an understated but valuable contribution to our generation’s evolving sense of romance, free of clichés, and rich in emotional sensibility.
Viaje will have its world premiere at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.