La Soledad

La Soledad poster

La Soledad movie poster

The acclaimed debut from Venezuelan director Jorge Hielen Armand, La Soledad is a bare, allegoric work portraying a country in decay. Based on the filmmaker’s childhood, featuring family and friends playing themselves, the movie uses a dilapidated mansion as its central setting and, most importantly, main character.

José (José Dolores López) is a young father taking care of his sick grandmother and somewhat of the house they have been allowed to squat in. To make ends meet, he not only does construction work but also sublets the place and, when the night comes, often hosts parties on the property. Upon learning that the house is slated to be demolished, rather than looking for a job and a new place, he decides to explore each corner of the property looking for a hypothetical treasure.

It’s no secret that movies have long used houses as reflections of characters’ inner turmoils or socio-political environments and Mr. Thielen Armand uses a similar metaphor here to portray Venezuela’s social and economic situation. The decrepit mansion is the fading memory of a glorious past, echoing both what’s happening to the country and José. Odd jobs and street vending seem to be some of the few options available to survive and, in one particularly absurd but sadly realistic moment, one of José’s friend even mentions kidnapping as a way to make some easy money. Just like the house, the economy and Venezuelans are in bad shape, which is reinforced by José’s grandmother failing health. José’s troubled journey searching for her medicine, whether it’s in the streets or in overcrowded clinics also showcases the Venezuelan Health System’s shortcomings. The filmmaker’s vision is pretty pessimistic and his open ending doesn’t bring much hope or solutions – the apparition of a white horse on the property reinforces that feeling of doom, white horses being often used as symbols of death or endings.

While all of this might make La Soledad sound like a quite depressing work, it however avoids pathos, the film successfully counterbalancing sober themes with a haunting atmosphere and beautiful visuals. The empty house feels almost ethereal, creating an enveloping poetic vibe while the cinematography’s focuses much of its effort on contrast, going from darkness and shadows to colorful, sunny outdoors – I particularly enjoyed the way its capturing the omnipresent luxurious vegetation.

Advancing pretty languidly on a flat screenwriting line toward an inexorable, anticlimactic conclusion, La Soledad is a challenging work creating artistry with harsh reality in a documentary-like format. It requires its audience to let its beauty sink in to be fully appreciated.

Director: Jorge Thielen Armand – Actors: José Dolores López, Adrializ López – Running Time: 1:29 – Year: 2017 – Country: Venezuela
Click here to watch the La Soledad trailer
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Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.
Fred Thom

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