Rita Lopez has lots of reasons to sulk. Life with Norberto, her husband of 40 years, in her small Argentinian village and its tiny chapel has become tedious. She’s annoyed by the other old biddies who form the social core of her days. She’s so tired of yearning for something else that she seems to be almost numb. But when she stumbles across a statue in a storage room, she experiences a kind of spark that’s been missing.
As the central character in director/writer Tomás Gómez Bustillo’s Chronicles of a Wandering Saint, Rita’s struggles and motivations give the story its sense of dual familiarity and mystery.
There’s something about the picturesque village of Santa Rita—the paint peeling from its walls, kids running back and forth on a soccer field, a dog running along the dirt road—that feels lovably quaint and palpably sad.
As Norberto tries to get her attention with romantic gestures, Rita craves resolution to the nature of the mysterious sculpture—and attention of her own. And when her first guess about its origins proves a mistake, she doubles down on a ruse to create a “miracle” for fellow churchgoers. Argentinian theater and television actors Mónica Villa and Horacio Marassi deliver endearing portrayals of the couple. Rita feels sensitive and abrasive in all the right ways for the conflicted moments in which viewers see her, while Marassi takes on Norberto with a quiet puttering and childlike insistence and an obvious adoration for his longtime bride.
It’s against this backdrop that a major event occurs to change the focus of the whole story in a way we don’t want to spoil here. Heartbreak, humor and even heroics ensue. This one might have you wiping away a tear and reaching for your sweetheart. It will certainly sweep you into another time and place—perhaps maybe even another dimension.
+Lovely; what a left turn!
-Slow pace at first
Chronicles of a Wandering Saint
Directed by Bustillo
With Villa and Marassi
Santa Fe International Film Festival, NR, 84 min., with Spanish subtitles