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La Soledad is Venezuelan director Jorge Thielen Armand feature film debut. Having screened at Venice International Film Festival, Miami Film Festival (Audience Award) and Atlanta Film Festival (Special Jury Prize); as well as winning the Best Opera Prima and Best Sound Design at Festival del Cine Venezolano, this little movie following the lives of a very humble family trying to keep their house amidst the tragic situation of the country, sets the way for a quite promising film career.
La Soledad is the name of the old mansion Jose and his family live in. His grandma Rosita used to be the maid of the long gone wealthy family that once inhabited the house and knows all the legends regarding the place; as the morocota gold coins hidden treasure somewhere in the nowadays derelict garden. But Jose has no time for legends for he has a little daughter to take care of, a problematic brother bringing his shady friends around and a wife who is getting tired of her job and is considering moving out to Colombia. To top it off, the actual owners of the house want to demolish it to sell the land.
Jose keeps neglecting his daughter’s insistence about a beach trip they were supposed to have while facing endless queues in the town hall to ask for social benefits and empty supermarkets that serve as a subtle and never politically driven view of current Venezuela.
On that matter, there are brief and well placed lines of dialogue that give a darker insight such as one of the friends of Jose’s brother proposal to join him in his express kidnappings as-it’s the only thing that gives money nowadays. In addition, there are other not so elegantly showed but equally striking sequences that underline that point as the overcrowded hospital the main character takes his grandma to, unsuccessfully, get the medicines she needs.
That last scene of the movie shows Jose taking his wife and daughter to the beach and enjoying an isolate moment of peace while floating face up in the sea as the camera zooms out to, finally, fade to black.
La Soledad fits in the social realism genre frame but it is also half documentary as many of the actors play themselves in the film. It is sober, striking and beautiful. The movie delivers the message intended through its tone and lack of action and even though it gets a bit slow from time to time or some would argue the resolution is anything but resolute, the film stays faithful to its nature and portrays magnificently the poverty-stricken situation of Venezuela nowadays.