“ Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 2002 / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Carlos Sorin / Actors: Javier Lombardo, Antonio Benedictti, Javiera Bravo ... / DVD released 2003-10-27 at Optimum Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
Region: Region 2
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Optimum Home Releasing
DVD Release Date: 27 Oct 2003
Current price on Amazon £6,87
Historias Minimas which means "Intimate stories" is a film that I was attracted to really because of the place that events happened- Patagonia. Having seen a film of that name recently I wanted to discover more about the real place that exists there, and this film is exactly about just that. Ordinary lives, small events, little happens - it is a rather strange look at the lives of three individuals each with a story - each with a reason to leave their isolated village and travel to the town of San Julian in search of their own dreams.
Brief Outline Of The Plot
The first story centres around an elderly gentleman, Mr. Justo played by Antonio Benedicti who is in search of his long lost dog "Badface". The second is a salesman - Roberto (Javier Lombardo ) with a shine for a special lady who he wants to make a relationship with and so he seeks the perfect cake for her son's birthday to take to her. The latter, a young mother María (Javiera Bravo), has won a competition to go to the city to take part in a game show to win the perfect food processor, which ironically she couldn't use even if she won it as her isolated dwelling has no electrics. So that in a nutshell is it - to find out more you must watch it for yourself and draw your own conclusions as other have. The IMDB viewers have awarded this film 7.4 out of 10 which is a very impressive score.
So what is it in this film that could possibility merit a score of this magnitude from such discerning film viewers? Well it has to be the unique nature of this film as few would dare to present something that has nothing really of excitement about it. Even in mundane soaps there are catastrophic events - murders, explosions, affairs deliberately set to keep audiences entertained, but here there is nothing like that at all. In fact my husband looked on in amazement as an hour and a half floated by in trivial innocence. You have to pay attention as the film is subtitled, but stop to make a cuppa and you won't miss much, it is slow -so slow, and to appreciate it you have to put yourself in the minds of a small community isolated from the real world for most of their lives.
There are some clever moments in the film which are thoughtfully executed. The scenery is certainly remote, and dusty landscapes predominate, and the wind seems to howl on many occasions highlighting the bleak and desolate countryside. Even the town of San Julian is little more than a cluster of shacks than a cosmopolitan settlement.
The director Carlos Sorin does a rather magnificent job in portraying life as I expect it to be in these remote parts of Southern Patagonia. The actors are not professionals, so have no long career histories to look through, but each play a good role at what they do -just playing ordinary souls going about their business.
One reviewer on IMDB compares this movie to what is my favourite of all time "The Straight Story" where a guy makes a journey across miles and miles of desolate countryside on a lawn mower in search of his long lost brother who has suffered a stroke. As that film was based on real human feelings I can see where the similarities can be drawn, as this too is a portrayal more of emotions than of events, and this also has some stunning scenery.
It is a very slow paced film that is described on the front cover as a charming road movie, and yes I agree with this statement- it is rather charming. However for me it was mildly entertaining and I grew slightly restless at times, which for me is unusual as I love remote places and bleak landscapes, but for me this was almost too simplistic for words. It has a sugary element to it which makes it quite hard to watch in some ways, as it is like a peak into a soap episode that simply has no real story in which to fully engage yourself in. You really have to be in the mood for this because unlike the Straight Story which has the most incredible soundtrack this has nothing like that. There is a theme of loneliness about this as all the characters are desperately seeking something, and each appears isolated, and the elderly gentleman is perhaps the most desolate of the three as he approaches the end of his years with failing eyesight and regrets he must mend.
I would not be inclined to watch this movie again as unlike the Straight Story which is probably needing to be replaced soon, as I have watched it so many times, this is something to watch once and for me that is enough. There is some humour in it which is mildly engaging and certainly adds interest, and the scenery was just as I like it - wild and empty, but the stories are what they are - mildly entertaining. I think my husband thought he was watching something that was truly difficult to believe was actually a piece of work that had a retail value, let alone a high score on IMDB. I was perhaps not so critical as he was, and afterwards he did say he had enjoyed it, but it would certainly be hard to re-capture interest for a second time, especially as the outcome of all the stories would be known.
Having said that though I did warm to the film and looking back it has left me with some stunning images, and certainly it gets points for me for the unique story which is what I love in a movie- something different and totally a one off! It leaves you with a warm feeling and it passes an hour and a half, and certainly leaves you feeling you have witnessed lives so different to your own. It's a simple story of human life - make of it what you will- can I recommend it?- that depends if you like to just observe mundane characters and are happy to plod along with them. It does engage you for it is so different to anything you will have seen before and some moments are truly memorable!
I think whether or not you will love this film is related to your personality. In many ways it depends if you have previously seen The Straight Story. This film, which is of a similar nature, I recommended to my father who has the exact opposite personality to mine- I am a nature lover and like "to be" - he is a very excitable character who can't sit in one place for a moment. He hated The Straight Story finding it tedious and pointless, and I wouldn't even dream of recommending this one to him as I know he would be bored out of his mind. If you like sitting and staring at nature, and find pleasure in small things this will have more appeal, but even if this is your personalty type you could find yourself restless at times and captivated at others as I did.
There are some extras on the DVD including cast and crew biographies, a trailer and a rather strange look at the Edinburgh Film Festival festivities. These are not really much to look at can be avoided without losing anything from the enjoyment of the film.
In conclusion I think this film is a warm look at characters and their dilemmas in a remote and barren place. Its unique setting and totally novel storyline is captivating and engaging at times, but may sometimes causes the mind to wander. The subtitles don't help as sometimes they are not entirely accurate, and of course subtitled films demand attention from the viewer at all times. There is no doubt this film is above average and there are some heartwarming moments as well as some which amuse. I'm on the fence about recommending it as it would drive some to complete boredom whilst others would be in their element.
Yes it is a road movie but not like "Vanishing Point " where a car races to its destination- it is a saunter- a wander into a world so unlike our own, where everything hinges on emotions, and where small events carry so much personal significance.
This review will also published on Ciao under my user name Violet1278
Historias Minimas (minimal stories) is a beautiful film from 2003 set in Argentinean Patagonia that has been somewhat overlooked in the face of popular Spanish language films released in the past decade.
The story follows 3 people on their separate but interweaving trips to San Julian the regional capital from their rural villages, but if that premise sounds a little overused then it isn't fair to describe the film as such. Essentially this is a film about nothing and also about everything. Three people travel to San Julian for very different but basically mundane reasons; however, the concentration on the everyday ups and downs and conversations between the most ordinary of people is far more effective at illuminating humanity than most dramatic films where large and life-changing events take place. Here the little ways in which people hurt and help one another are displayed naked and without commentary.
The director, Carlos Sorin, is known for Bombon, El Perro (Bonbon, the dog) also set in Patagonia and is a master of capturing this often desolate and always remote area of the world. The shots show the vastness of the landscape and the contrasting colours of sky and land in the open and flat plains. His casting in Historias Minimas was spot on, even when he took the slight risk of using unknown and not professional actors and catches the right balance between emotiveness and flashes of understated humour-often through as little as a lip twitch or eye flicker. Everything in this film is minimal but Sorin manages to develop the characters through such little movements.
The first of the three characters on the road to San Julian is Don Justo played by Antonio Benedicti, an old and ailing man patronised by his well meaning family. Hearing someone saw his old dog in the regional capital he sets off to hitchhike there and find it. Maria Flores is a painfully shy rural housewife with a young baby played by Javiera Bravo who travels to take part in a TV competition after her name is read out on TV. Finally Javier Lombardo plays an obsessive travelling salesman bringing a cake to the child of a woman he likes in the city. Roberto is perhaps the most complex of the three characters yet for me, and I think with the director's intention, is the least likeable of the three. All of the actors do fantastic jobs of portraying their character, with the ups and downs and small dramas of their lives.
I found the simple story fascinating and intriguing. The simplicity of every element of the film is deceptive in the complexity of the issues that are touched upon. Whilst being an unashamedly un-mainstream film it remains completely unpretentious in line with the people whom the film depicts. The slow pace unravels unspectacular lives that are completely free of dramatic gestures-something that is extremely rare when every film has to have something to capture the audience. I was captured by Historias Minimas regardless. Few films can show ordinary people are they are everyday as well as this one does
My one main complaint about the film was more to do with the DVD as the subtitles were not of the best quality. The Spanish was often saying something with a different feel to that in the English which may mean a viewer could miss some of the finer details which are quite important in this film. Occasionally also the subtitles just failed to make sense although this was only a couple of times.
Overall I would highly recommend this film especially to people who have enjoyed other works by Sorin such as El Perro as it is one of the best films I have seen recently. It is admittedly a bit of an art house film and some may find the slow movement boring but the beauty and simplicity will win over many others.
Runtime: 93 minutes