Film Review: Turistas

“It’s awkward,” mutters thirty-seven-year-old Carla about her current situation. She’s been recently stranded by her husband, abandoned at a bus station in the middle of nowhere with a bleached blond twenty-year-old named Ulrik.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Turistas pelicula

Her companion begins to chuckle, “Awkward. That’s a funny word.” Turistas, the latest movie from Chilean director Alicia Scherson, uses subtle humor through dialogues like this to poke fun at the routine of daily life while simultaneously making the audience reflect upon the “big picture” of their own lives.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Turistas pelicula

The film follows the story of Carla (played by Aline Kuppenheim) who has recently had an abortion without previously notifying her husband. Left stranded on the side of the road by the devastated would-be father, Carla comes across Ulrik in a roadside restaurant. The pair quickly develops a friendship of convenience, based on a mutual sense of personal confusion and lack of structure and direction in their respective lives.

Filmed in Parque Nacional Radal Siete Tazas in Chile’s VII region, the mostly outdoor setting of Turistas allows for a smooth development of the central theme, the idea of the supposed simplicity of nature versus the complexity of everyday life. The concept of romanticism in nature and the desperate search for answers in the wilderness is addressed through the two main characters’ personal journeys in the park. The two discover that this idea of romanticism in nature doesn’t necessarily provide the answers they hoped it would, however they do find a mysterious something, albeit something different than what they were originally looking for.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Turistas pelicula

Director Alicia Schersons says, “Nature isn’t easy. There’s nothing simple in a waterfall or a spider...[Turistas is] about city people, confused and awkward, who find themselves in a national park begging nature to give them something and instead receiving something completely different.” Also from Santiago, Scherson admits that she herself dreamed of nature in the same romantic way, but was aware that it wouldn’t be the answers to all her questions.

The film also deals with the universal idea of how we present ourselves in a particular way when we “face the world,” according to Scherson, with this façade as our defense. Says the director, “As the story progresses, you begin to realize that in the park everybody is lying, keeping up their appearances by wearing masks.”

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Turistas pelicula

When asked what she wanted the message of the movie to be, Scherson responds that she doesn’t make movies to instill any definitive message or theme in anyone’s mind; rather that she only wants to make her audience think. In her own words, “El mensaje cierra, la discusión abre.” (“Messages close while discussions open.”) This is perhaps the strongest point of Turistas: upon exiting the theater, it is unlikely that you walk away with a clearly defined life lesson under your belt. Rather, you leave in a pensive, even puzzled, state of mind that leaves you contemplating your own search for answers, be it in nature or elsewhere. The director undoubtedly reaches her goal of making the audience think.

Turistas was released on Thursday, October 15 and is currently playing in major theaters in Santiago. To learn more about the film visit the official website at www.turistaslapelicula.cl.

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