“When you find your own place, you can’t desert it.”
A Place in the World–an Argentinean film–is a frame story. It begins with the adult Ernesto (Mariano Ortega) traveling back into the Argentinean countryside to his family’s former home, and then the story seeps back into Ernesto’s childhood.
The remainder of the story focuses on 12-year-old Ernesto’s (Gaston Batyi) life. He lives with his idealistic parents–his father, ex-professor Mario (Frederico Luppi) teaches the local children and his mother Ana (Cecilia Roth) is a doctor who is dependent on medical supplies sent by friends. Mario and Ana are clearly committed to helping others. Together they’ve formed a cooperative with the local shepherds, and they fight to maintain a united front against the wealthy landowners.
Hans (Jose Sacristan) a Spanish geologist arrives. He’s employed by one of the wealthiest landowners who believes there’s oil on his land. Hans–a lapsed anarchist–no longer feels strongly about anything. He left his belief system behind somewhere in his youth. Ernesto admires Hans, and the geologist soon becomes a frequent visitor to Mario and Ana’s home.
Many professional reviews tout A Place in the World as the best Argentinean film ever. It’s flagrant sentimentality and cliched script unfortunately renders it into mediocrity. 12-year-old Ernesto teaches the daughter of the richest, nastiest landowner how to read, for example. Sweet, touching … but also strikingly simplistic, unoriginal and maudlin. Instead of possessing unique, interesting characteristics, Hans, Mario, and Ana are two-dimensional and represent ‘types’ : Ana–the dedicated, self-sacrificing doctor, Hans–the stranger who learns to believe in something again, and Mario, the noble suffering teacher. Ultimately–given the rave reviews this film received–it was disappointing and dull. It’s passable, but nothing extraordinary–more like some sort of Hallmark Film of the Week. Directed by Adolfo Aristarin, A Place in the World is in Spanish with English subtitles.