But this Argentine-German project is a standout – and what initially comes in the guise of a straightforward mystery drama about the disappearance of a botanist evolves into something else entirely.
Titled Trenque Lauquen, the film begins as a man named Ezequiel “Chicho” Pierri attempts to track down an acquaintance named Laura (Laura Paredes) after she ups and leaveseft the sleepy titular province of Buenos Aires seemingly without alerting anyone.
It’s through a series of unsettling discoveries he makes during his search for Laura that this epic tale, split into 12 parts, takes on a labyrinthine genre-shifting form and leads viewers through a journey that veers into unexpected places. Let’s just say: nothing is as it seems in this film that has shades of David Lynch and Alfred Hitchock while almost remaining a distinct work from Argentine director Laura Citarella.
The four-hour long film was shown in full, albeit with an interval, when it was screened at Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) and Venice Film Festival earlier this year, but is being released theatrically in two parts, making for a unique cinema-going experience.
Trenque Lauquen is a follow-up to Citarella’s little-seen Ostende, which was released in 2011 and, while the film is only getting a small cinema release, it’s well worth finding time to seek it out – and the critics are in agreement.
The film was also ranked as the best film of the year on the annual ranking by esteemed French magazine Cahiers du Cinéma, alongside releases including Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans, Justine Triet’s cannes Palme d’Or winner Anatomy of a Fall and Fallen Leaves by Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki.
Meanwhile,The Guardian was less convinced by the film, but acknowledged that Citarella’s “film-making language ensures that cult status beckons”.
Trenque Lauquen – Parts 1 and 2 are in cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema from 8 December