Director: Jorge Thielen Armand
Writer: Rodrigo Michelangeli, Jorge Thielen Armand
Cast: José Dolores López, Adrializ López, Marley Alvillares, Jorge Thielen Hedderich, María Agamez Palomino
Seen on: 13.9.2016
José (José Dolores López) lives with his family in a dilapitated house in Caracas, called La Soledad. They inherited that house – unofficially – from the family his grandmother Rosina (María Agamez Palomino) worked as a maid for. José barely gets by, but he does his best, trying to take care of his daughter, his grandmother and the rest of the family. But the family is threatened with eviction from the remaining family. All that can maybe safe them is the rumored treasure in the house itself.
La Soledad straddles the line between documentary and feature film. The house was actually the house of director Amand’s family, José really his childhood friend and Armand seems to capture the images of a Venezuela in crisis very naturalistically (as far as I can tell, having never been there). And yet I didn’t get all that warm with the film.
I like films that open a window into another world for me – and La Soledad is one of those films for me. The Caracas we get to see here is one suffused with desperation as people struggle to get ahold of even the basic things. This is epitomized in José’s struggle to get a “life certificate” (but please don’t ask me what that is). He is always working and moving, but mostly it’s just moving to stand in a seemingly endless queue and he never really breaks even with the world.
Yet Armand manages to keep the film from becoming totally depressing. The love between José and his family, his stubborn hope and the magical treasure that looms around the corner give the film space away from the harsh realities it shows.
Unfortunately though, the film really failed with the ending. It came way too suddenly and left me frustrated – I really didn’t feel that I was done with the story yet. And that after the major part of the film moved very slowly, using long, often dialogue-free shots. The pacing simply didn’t work out. It should have moved faster in the beginning and taken more time in the end.
Armand also intersperses the film with images from his own childhood (or so I assume) and those images would have needed a bit more context and explanation. Just putting them into the film left me mostly confused and added to the overly slow pace.
Nevertheless, it’s a film that shows much promise from a young filmmaker. If he can get the pacing issues under control, there is much to expect.