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HIDDEN RIVER (Río Escondido)(director/writer: Mercedes Garcia-Guevara; cinematographer: Esteban Sapir; editor: Alejandro Brodersohn; cast: Paola Krum (Ana), Pablo Cedron (Luis), Juan Palomino (Martin), María José Gabín (Greta), Inés Baum (Lena), Elías Carrasco (Lucio), Matías Del Pozo (Tomy), Mirta Ceballos (Rosa); Runtime: 85; Institute of Theater & Arts; 1999-Argentina)
“An old-fashioned love story that is more vague than uplifting.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It’s an art-house film. An old-fashioned love story that is more vague than uplifting. First-time director Mercedes Garcia-Guevara, a second cousin to Argentina-born rebel Che-Guevera, has created a moody meditation piece about a woman falling in love with her husband’s brother. The woman has lived a lie in her comfortable but dull city life and finds peace of mind in the simpleness of country life.

The film opens as interior designer Ana (Paola Krum) tucks her six year old Tomy to bed while her high-powered executive husband Luis (Cedron) is out of the country on business, and she then opens a mysterious letter addressed to her husband. During the day, she stopped by his office and discovered the letter from a woman. It is a ‘thank you’ note for him sending money for child support; there’s also a child’s drawing enclosed. She tells her work partner Greta that she suspects her husband of having a secret family; and, impulsively decided to fly from Buenos Aires to visit her husband’s hometown of Hidden River. It’s a remote rural village at the foot of the Andes Mountains in western Argentina.

After her plane ride Ana learns that Hidden River is still two hours away, so she rents a pickup truck and is surprised to find that she’s at a children’s home. Here she meets Lucio (Elías Carrasco), a six year old boy, who turns out to be the son of her husband’s brother, Martín (Juan Palomino), a man she didn’t know existed. Martín has so far served six years in the nearby prison for murder but he gets a furlough on Sundays, and he hitchhikes to Hidden River to spend the day secretly watching his son as he plays by the river with the other children.

When Ana gives Martín a lift without telling him who she is, she begins to doubt her life and the love she has for husband. She’s impressed by Martín’s quiet demeanor and frankness, and his rugged good looks. Soon she can’t leave him, as something comes over her that is pressing deeply from within her. She follows him to an abandoned farmhouse and learns that was her husband’s childhood home.

The camera does a beautiful job of catching the raw countryside of Hidden Valley in long sweeping shots of its splendid mountain ranges and its raw terrain, and its magnificent forest. While here, Ana questions her roots and her past in these serene surroundings; while hubby, back in Buenos Aires, is only interested in business and can’t communicate anything but surface things.

There is a hint that Martín is too gentle a person to have committed murder. But the story remains too obscure, locked up too tightly in Paola Krum’s mind. Even the moving performance by Paola Krum cannot clear things up.

The film had a sad mood throughout and this was reinforced by Martín Bauer’s musical score for classic Argentinean guitar and cello, which played in the background.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”