Thursday Till Sunday is a new art film written and directed by Chilean filmmaker Dominga Sotomayor Castillo. Originally released in Mexico last year under the title De jueves a domingo, the film has been aired at a number of film festivals around the world, and won the 2012 Tiger Award at Rotterdam International Film Festival. The film follows Lucía, a young girl who embarks on a long-weekend trip across Chile with her family. It will come to UK cinemas on 5 April, after being released in its native Chile the day before.
Thursday Till Sunday is a gentle, sensitive film that evokes memories of weekend trips taken in childhood, and draws effectively on the viewer’s own experiences to fill out the minimalism of the picture that it presents to us. The central plot progression is the disintegration of the relationship between Lucía’s parents Ana and Papá , but this breakdown is witnessed through the uncertain and apparently impassive eyes of Lucía herself – which I think can be a mixed blessing.
Although I appreciate that portraying these events through the incomplete comprehension of a child gives the film an interpretative, subjective element (which I very much enjoy, by the way), I do get the sense that this is perhaps not what Sotomayor intended. Some of the interactions seem to me to go beyond ‘mysterious’ or ‘leading’ – becoming instead perplexing and sometimes baffling. Climactic scenes in the film led me to believe that I was being offered something approaching a complete picture, but this is not what I picked up.
This suspicion arises partly because of the film’s difficult relationship with English – as we see in the title’s unfortunate use of ‘Till’. This error doesn’t seem to be stylistic, and is followed by similarly unnerving errors in the subtitle production, which shot a big hole in this piece for me. The subtlety of the dialogue is blown apart when one begins to question the accuracy of the relayed words, defeating the viewer’s ability to deduct significance. This was a very disappointing oversight, especially in such an economical piece.
Speaking of economy, there’s a lot going on with the camerawork in this film – or perhaps I should say the lack of camerawork. The film opens, for example, on a lingering static shot of Lucía’s bed as she is carried out to the car in the early morning – which we see through her window. The immovable camera often allows characters to move in and out of shot at will, encouraging the audience to attend the development of character rather than action. This, however, can run up awkwardly against the film’s interaction with the characteristics of home movies; often it’s an appropriate match, as we see life unfolding around the eye of the camera rather than before it, but sometimes the two collide in those lingering static shots, which at the outside of their duration begin to suggest a third presence.
One of the most stunning features of this film is the excellence of the child actors portraying the central roles. Santi Ahumada, playing protagonist Lucía, and Emiliano Freifeld as Lucía’s brother Manuel, were entirely natural, and really carried the piece – apparently, Sotomayor didn’t give the children the script, forcing them to react naturally to everything that occurs in the film, and this technique seems to have worked very well.
To sum up
Thursday Till Sunday is a work of sensitivity and some depth, which balances a strong national influence against a credible attempt at universal relevance. What I perceive as its flaws – a lack of clarity and infrequent filmic gestures that seem to conflict with the thrust of the film – can easily be forgiven in what is, after all, Sotomayor’s debut full-length film. I would definitely recommend Thursday Till Sunday to fans of art cinema everywhere.