Las Acacias: A Very Quiet Friendship in Argentina

There is no musical score for this Argentine road movie, only the incessant throbbing of a truck's diesel engine. And it is a long, long drive from Paraguay to Buenos Aires—maybe two days in real time, 85 minutes for us. The driver, Rubén (Germán de Silva), is a taciturn guy past middle age who doesn't speak for the movie's first 20 minutes. His passenger, Jacinta (Hebe Duarte), is scared to break the silence, since she only got the ride because Rubén's boss told him to. And between them is her 5-month-old baby, whose sudden cries and gurgles startle Rubén out of his solitary routine. (He's been 30 years on the road, ever alone.) At a truck stop, Jacinta looks through the glove box: Rubén is a father, but she daren't ask him about it. Director Pablo Giorgelli doesn't push his two age-mismatched leads into easy rapport. Truckers bear unsavory stereotypes (think back to Duel), but Rubén gradually softens. And while Jacinta is cute and vivacious, she never imposes on the stranger seated beside her. Little is said between them, but both have impeccable manners. Acacias are the trees being brutally logged in the film's first scenes; Rubén then drives the timber to market. In a way, both characters have been uprooted from place and kin. If you're patient, very patient, Las Acacias suggests that new growth is possible. But there is no radio in the truck, and there are many kilometers to travel.

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