An exceedingly (and often excessively) low-key drama, Les Routes en Février follows Arlen Aguayo Stewart’s Sarah as she travels to Uruguay to spend some time with her grandmother (Gloria Demassi’s Magda) – with the virtually plotless narrative detailing Sarah’s day-to-day exploits in the sleepy little village and her ongoing efforts at bonding with her closed-off grandma. It’s clear almost immediately that first-time filmmaker Katherine Jerkovic is in absolutely no hurry to tale this rather simple tale, as Les Routes en Février progresses at a glacial pace that’s compounded by an ongoing emphasis on the central character’s inconsequential exploits. (There is, for example, a sequence in which Sarah spends time on Magda’s porch just staring into space.) There’s little doubt, then, that Les Routes en Février benefits substantially from Stewart’s appealing, compelling turn as the movie’s affable protagonist, while the sporadic inclusion of actual dramatic moments effectively does infuse the proceedings with much-needed instances of substance (eg a fantastic sequence in which Sarah and Magda discuss their life choices and regrets). The picture’s lack of momentum ultimately prevents it from making any kind of real impact, however, with Jerkovic’s pervasively subdued approach to her spare screenplay often threatening to put the viewer to sleep – and yet Les Routes en Février‘s thoroughly earnest atmosphere, coupled with a winning lead performance, cements its place as a decent debut for Jerkovic.
**1/2 out of ****