March 03, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Intimate Stories

Current Status
In Season
94 minutes
Limited Release Date
Anibal Maldonado, Javiera Bravo, Maria Rosa Cianferoni, Javier Lombardo
Carlos Sorin
New Yorker
Foreign Language
We gave it an A-

Argentinean filmmaker Carlos Sorin’s deadpan and beguiling road-trip drama Intimate Stories makes use of the road itself as a major character. In vignettes of coincidence and cooperation played out between Fitz Roy and the distant port of San Julián, the imposing physical presence of blacktop extends in an endless ribbon over the vast, extraordinary steppes of Southern Patagonia. But while this piquant, tapas-like movie (a 2003 film- festival favorite only now being released) asserts that landscape is a kind of destiny from which one cannot escape, Sorin takes delighted, serious interest in how far a person can advance psychologically, even if all roads lead back to a home at the end of the world.

In a persuasive demonstration of innate human dignity, all but two of the cast members are nonactors who enact their parts with easy naturalism. An old man with a guilty conscience hitches rides in search of his dog; a young provincial woman and her baby journey by bus to claim a prize on a TV game show; a traveling salesman frets about the perfect gift to impress a woman he fancies. Strangers meet, then move on. Paths cross, then unravel. Only the highway itself remains constant in Sorin’s sweet, shaggy travelogue.

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