It’s often said that if you examine an individual life closely enough, you’ll find the makings of universal tragedy, comedy and mystery.
Directed and co-writer Cristóbal Serrá Jorquera gives that thesis a serious test in the Costa Rican drama “El Calor Después de la Lluvia,” “The Heat After the Rain.” It’s a quiet, contemplative look at one young woman’s literal and emotional journey after a miscarriage.
We aren’t told much, and aren’t shown much more, a serious shortcoming in this minimalist tale in a seldom-filmed setting.
For 30ish Juana (Milena Picado), the chill set in on her relationship with Gustavo (Luis Carlos Bogantes) after she lost the baby. His aimlessness grates, his inability to provide words of comfort hurt.
He’s content to carry on as always, poking around San José, never letting her know where he’s off to, who he might be with. “Why do I have to have a job?” (in Spanish with English subtitles).
And yet he’s the one who wants closure when the inevitable happens. Running into him on the seasonal religious pilgrimage she undertakes is just salt in the wound.
Juana is drained by the ordeal and joyless in the pilgrimage. Winding up at her parent’s house in a small town is her chance to finally have someone to talk to about this most personal of tragedies. But she won’t.
And the bearded guy (Arturo Pardo) who meets her in a cantina probably isn’t up to it, either.
Jorquera puts so few cards on the table that the viewer’s left to fill in around the edges of this simple, potentially sad story. I say “potentially,” because there’s precious little emotion expressed here, and you can guess where it turns up.
Waiting for that, we’re left to ponder the emptiness Juana feels and the subject Juana avoids in a conservative Catholic Central American country.
“El Calor Después de la Lluvia” is lovely to look at, which is some consolation. But for people who look for, you know, more overtly dramatic things to happen in their dramas, who like a little more explanation (What pilgrimage is this? Where is the town Juana ends up in? Etc?), it’s a dull exercise in guess what’s in the character’s head.
MPAA Rating: unrated, adult themes
Cast: Milena Picado, Luis Carlos Bogantes, Arturo Pardo, Rodrigo Duran and Ana Ulate.
Credits: Directed by Cristóbal Serrá Jorquera, script by Cristóbal Serrá Jorquera, Felipe Zúñiga. An Indiepix release.
Running time: 1:10