Rating: ★★☆☆☆

The four-minute opening shot of Dominga Sotomayor’s feature debut, Thursday Till Sunday, very much sets the mood for what is to follow; the most patient cineastes might describe it as deliberate, but there’s little point skirting around the fact that, without wanting to appear facetious or reductive, this film is simply boring.

While it’s difficult to argue against the power of Bárbara Álvarez’ luminous cinematography nor the mythic quality of the road film, the sluggish pace undoes just about any firm atmosphere Sotomayor establishes. Familial tensions arise between a husband and wife as they take their son and daughter on what might be their last trip as a unit. We’re keen to indulge the atmosphere and read into every minor detail, populating them with our own speculation where possible, whether it’s the husband picking up two nubile young teen hitch-hikers, or the wife’s extremely apparent passive-aggressiveness.

It is this communication – or rather, the lack of it – that formulates tension for us as astute viewers, and this is juxtaposed with the less-informed perspective of their young daughter, Lucia (Santi Ahumada), confused at the prospect of seeing her family appear to crumble before her eyes. However, Sotomayor’s near-abusive use of long takes drains the narrative of much of its emotional pull, distending countless moments beyond their necessary length, thus making even a mere 94-minute film feel bloated.

With such a seeming poverty of ideas, one can’t help but think the film might have been more effective as a short. It’s low on energy, but more crucially, low on intrigue, and even the impressive photographic work does little to enhance the dull mood as we roll towards the inevitably sombre conclusion. Though it comes close to palpably eerie at the end, the unbearably abstract subtlety and painstakingly over-methodical approach gives this the feel of a first-time director trying a little too hard, or perhaps not hard enough.

Languid pacing and excessively long, empty takes make this visually decent, well-acted film a difficult sit.

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This article was first posted on October 26, 2012