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Review: 'Forgotten Roads' a Sheer Joy to Watch

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Oct 6, 2020
'Forgotten Roads'
'Forgotten Roads'  

Despite all the problems in the world, 2020 has seen a remarkable crop of excellent queer feature films from first-time directors/writers. "Forgotten Roads," from Chilean filmmaker Nicol Ruiz Benavides, is right up there amongst them.

Kudos for both his script and his visual interpretation, but especially for the sublimely nuanced performance from his lead actress, Rosa Ramírez Ríos, in her very first movie. The camera (and we) love her.

She plays 70-year-old Claudina, whom we first meet when she learns that her husband has died. It will mean leaving her remote farmhouse, which was part of his job - no mean feat for a woman who has been so dependent on her husband that she cannot even drive her own car.

Having no other options, she moves in with her only daughter, to whom she is not really close, and her young grandson, upon whom she dotes.  The small, conservative town they live in is currently obsessed with sightings of UFOs, and we soon discover that the people there actually abhor anything they do not understand.

Claudina seems slightly dazed by life now, but still shows no signs of grieving for her late husband. When she befriends her new, more worldly neighbor, Elsa, it is a relief for Claudina to share the fact that at a very early age her marriage had made her feel trapped and embittered. 

Elsa, with a husband who is away traveling for most of the year, is a free spirit who cares little for how she is perceived in the neighborhood, and who quickly grows very attached to Claudina. She confides that she sings in a hidden bar called "Porvenir" ("The Future") on the other side of town. When Claudina braves it out on her own to go to this secret gay bar, her eyes are suddenly open to a whole new world of possibilities that she has never even dreamed of.

Her relationship with Elsa becomes physical as they declare their love for each other, but the reappearance of her husband... and the UFOs... gives her a sharp reality check.  

To Claudina, though, this is another bump in the road. She's been empowered by Elsa, and she now has a sense of personal freedom. There can be no turning back. And she can drive now, too!  

Claudina's journey of self-discovery is a sheer joy to watch, and will no doubt be a real inspiration to others.

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.


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