A shimmering depiction of the kind of chance encounter that can change life’s course, Viaje throws two strangers together at a party and asks how far their shared sensibilities will carry them. Sexy without being lascivious, tenderly shot in B&W, the second feature by Costa Rican filmmaker Paz Fabrega will find many admirers on the fest circuit and could be a win for a boutique distributor.
Luciana and Pedro (Kattia Gonzalez and Fernando Bolaños) meet at the tail end of a boozy costume party. Luciana rebuffs Pedro’s impulsive kiss, then has second thoughts and corners him in a bathroom. But while her no-nonsense “vamos?” portends a quick trip to bed at his place, Fabrega has droll diversions up her sleeve.
After bonding in a taxi over the weirdness of seeing their friends couple up and spawn kids, only to have their riffing jokes taken seriously by a buzzkill cabbie, the pair arrive at Pedro’s house with their lust burned off by the morning sun. They’re playful (if hungover) instead, and when Pedro reveals that he’s due to leave for a three-week assignment at a remote biological research station, Luciana comes along for what’s supposed to be a one-night, pre-work holiday in the woods.
Alejandro Fernandez‘s organic score — wry piano line here, banjo and handclapping there — echoes the casualness of this outing while understanding that it’s real, not a disposable amusement rendered meaningless by its possible brevity. Fabrega and her actors clearly feel the same way: Though their initial frolic in pop-up tents and forest undergrowth is characterized by giggling and flirty double-entendres, the effervescence subsides after pillow talk turns to the outside world. The shift isn’t a crisis, nothing as conventionally dramatic as that, but it nudges both lovers to become more conscious of themselves while trying to amuse each other.
Fabrega’s script demonstrates the kind of feminist storytelling in which it goes without saying that men and women are equal participants in social life. The film may open and close with just Luciana onscreen, but at no point does one character get its attention at the other’s expense. The man and woman are peers in a way that’s uncommon in romances directed by young men, working out in words and action the questions on both their minds: Is casual fun all there is? Is our youth ending if we make stronger bonds? What now?
Production company: Temporal Films
Cast: Kattia Gonzalez, Fernando Bolaños, Hernan Jimenez
Director-Screenwriter: Paz Fabrega
Producers: Paz Fabrega, Kattia Gonzalez
Directors of photography: Paz Fabrega, Esteban Chinchilla
Editors: Paz Fabrega, Sebastian Sepulveda
Music: Alejandro Fernandez
Sales: FiGa Films
No rating, 69 minutes