Contemporary World Cinema
Katherine Jerkovic’s Spanish-language film, Roads in February, is visually beautiful but sparse on story.
Sara (Arlen Aguayo-Stewart) has travelled to the village of Espinillo, Chile, to visit her grandmother, Magda (Gloria Demassi). Despite it being a long time since they last saw each other, they are quiet during this visit, mostly only sharing polite pleasantries and assisting each other with household chores. Absent is Sara’s father and Magda’s son, Claudio, who died of an unknown illness just before he was going to visit.
Despite it being February, in Chile the temperature is hot enough for the villagers (and dogs) of Espinillo to bask languidly in the sun. Magda passes her time cooking, cleaning, socializing with her friends, and attending mass. Sara is an intruder on this apparently slow-paced way of life, constantly snapping away with her camera.
The majority of the film passes without nary a word being said – it’s the glances, and the actions taken by the two protagonists that carry weight. It’s how the sun finds its way into the house, and reflects off the pools of water which must feel so good in such hot conditions. It’s how the train tracks squeak as they are rotated.
In some ways, this film feels unfinished. A conversation at the end is cut short by the credits, and I would have liked to hear more on that topic. Certain things happen to Sara that could use some resolution, but perhaps a lack of resolution is the point. Perhaps every sun-dappled day is an excuse just to languish in not saying what needs to be said, or to delay in providing the help that needs to be provided.
This film is akin to peering into the workings of a family that is not your own, and not being given the opportunity to truly pierce the surface of what makes that family tick. More details to ground the viewer into the dynamics of these characters would go a long way to increasing the film’s lasting power.