DIR: Charly Braun | Cinema of Our Time| Brazil, Uruguay | 2010 | 85 minutes
Por el Camino combines a visually gorgeous road-trip of Uruguay with the development of a romantic attraction between two vastly opposite characters. Santiago is a former Manhattan investment banker, while Juliette is a Belgian free spirit. While Santiago is driving his way home to claim his inheritance from his Argentinean parents, he stops for Juliette, a beautiful sea-sick girl he noticed on his ferry ride to Montevideo.
Juliette is tracking down an Uruguayan commune leader that she had met on her previous trip, hoping to resume their romantic liaison. Juliette, tired of her dead end job is searching for a different life adventure. She accepts Santiago’s offer for a ride.
On their journey they meet interesting locals and visit various road-side attractions while they stop at the estate of Santiago’s god-father near the tourist resort of Punta del Este. A local describes it as where “everybody wears the same Lacoste shirt and has the same kind of wife.” Visiting with the well-connected god-father, they interact with various unique characters including Naomi Campbell in a cameo.
The class-difference between the two characters quickly becomes apparent. While Juliette feels uncomfortable in Santiago’s world, it’s later Santiago’s turn to feel out of place at the commune. These scenes are the funniest in the film.
While director Charly Braun’s first feature follows the typical romance formula—boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl leaves and boy pursues her, it still works. The on-screen chemistry and the casual, fun relationship they have is very natural. It is easy to picture the potential pair together 50 years later.
Besides the character development of Santiago’s god-father, the various characters on the road aren’t given enough screen time for the audience to really get to know the locals. Another odd choice in the film was Santiago’s flashback of his relationship with Juliette when they had only recently met. And while each character seems to be running away from something, what that could be is not explored.
The Vancouver International Film Festival advertises that you can visit different countries by staying at home: this is one film that inspires you to take your own road trip.
A diverse writer, Amy Chow has covered health and education related topics, written social commentaries, profiles, travel stories, restaurant and movie reviews. She’s written for The Tyee, Xtra West, Westender, Asian Pacific Post, Momentum, Ricepaper, and Schema Magazine.