In The Longest Distance (La distancia más larga), writer-director Claudia Pinto Emperador contrasts two sides of her native Venezuela: The bustling metropolis of Caracas and the stunning landscapes of Gran Sabana, the giant national park where Pixar’s Up was set that is home to the majestic Mount Roaima.
In the city, a woman is murdered in a casual act of wanton brutality, leaving 12-year-old Lucas (Omar Moya) motherless and his father Julio (Ivan Tamayo) a widower. In the wild, a terminally-ill woman, Martina (Carme Elias), is making the trek to climb Roaima so she may die in the same spot where her husband vanished years ago.
Lucas, who is Martina’s grandson, learns of her one-way voyage and through the help of a gun-toting thug (Alec Whaite), manages to make his way to her side. But will the boy’s presence lead Martina to change her destination, or will she push ahead with her one-way trip as planned? Does this movie not sound a little nutty?
The Longest Distance makes good use of its gorgeous locations (the filmmakers spent 40 days shooting inside the park), using the differences between natural beauty and man-made environments to complement the clashing ideologies between the characters. A little of this goes a long way, though. The Longest Distance is earnest in its attempt to explore how blame and forgiveness can be interchanged between generations or even strangers forced to get to know each other. But the film is also precious and occasionally ludicrous. Often, you’ll wish these characters had found a short cut.
Cast: Carme Elias, Omar Moya, Alec Whaite, Ivan Tamayo.
Writer-director: Claudia Pinto Emperador.
Running time: 113 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles. Adult themes. In Miami-Dade only: Coral Gables Art Cinema.