IFFR 2017 – review – A WINDOW TO ROSALIA (“Pela Janela,” Caroline Leone, 2017, Brazil / Argentina)

WindowToRosaliaposterThe road trip movie is frequently associated with rebellious subjects and young runaway lovers. The lead characters of A Window to Rosalia, the directorial feature debut by Caroline Leone, are not only past their prime, being in their sixties, but also siblings who have nothing against the nature of the dominant society. Indeed, title character Rosalia (Magali Biff) becomes depressed precisely because she feels alienated from the dominant “order of things” after she suddenly loses her job as production manager in an electronics factory. This triggers her existentialist crisis and awakens her to the impending threat of mortality. Faced with the inevitability of death, she is unable to cope with living.

Her brother José (Caca Amaral), worried, comes to her rescue. He is to make a 2200 kilometre trip from Sao Paolo in Brazil to Buenos Aires in Argentina. He decides to take his sister along with him, to cheer her up. It is important to note that José’s trip too is motivated by work: he is to drive a luxury car to his boss’ daughter. This reveals how work is integrated with the lives of the two characters and how it greatly impacts and affects their private lives and personalities. This is a truth concealed in the expressionless face of Rosalia: losing her job has caused her to lose her personalities, evoking a creature, not unlike George A. Romero’s zombies.

Rosalia’s face is precisely where the story of the film lies. The quietness of A Window to Rosalia and its reliance on Deleuzian “time images” through its slow pace allow us to pay attention to the slight movements occasionally read on it. Thus, the film is less about the spectacle of the landscapes or even the people that Rosalia encounters along the way – it is much more about the ways in which these things have an impact on her soul (as Shakespeare once said, “the eyes are the window to your soul”; as Cicero once said, “the face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter”; as Mark Cousins once said, “cinematic truth lies in the close-up”).

In Leone’s film, the screen, facilitated by the work of the camera, becomes the “window to Rosalia.” Her background in film editing allows her to have more control on the cohesiveness of the atmosphere. The moments in which the film slightly shifts its focus, for instance by leaving Rosalia to turn its attention to José, are disturbing: they feel constructed for cinematic purposes and betray the overall intentions of the vision. Nonetheless, the film remains quite rewarding. Formally, it reminds us of how delightful it is watch scenes in which nothing happens but everything might potentially happen at any moment. Thematically, A Window to Rosalia reminds us of how rewarding it is to travel and take ourselves out of our comfort zone. – ★★★★

PELA JANELA || 2017, Brazil / Argentina || Drama || Directed by – Caroline Leone / Produced by – Sara Silveira, Maria Ionescu, Hernan Musaluppi, Natacha Cervi / Written by – Caroline Leone / Cinematography – Claudio Leone / Edited by – Anita Ramon, Caroline Leone / Starring – Caca Amaral, Magali Biff / Running time: 87 minutes.

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