Not exactly the most earth-shattering entry from the Argentinean new wave, Intimate Stories nevertheless portrays the intersecting lives of its three protagonists with such skillful understatement that it more than earns the adjective of its Spanish title, Historias Mínimas. In deepest Patagonian bumfuck, crusty septuagenarian Justo (Antonio Benedicti) embarks on a voyage to the town of San Julian to find his pet dog that mysteriously ran away years ago. Justo’s road trip crosses those of door-to-door salesman Roberto (Javier Lombardo) and twentysomething mother María (Javiera Bravo), who has won a sweepstakes to appear in an ultra-kitschy TV game show. Director Carlos Sorin maintains a studied detachment from his cast of loners and never belabors the serendipity of their chance encounters. Almost uninflected in tone, the movie is as spare and arid as its sagebrush-dotted landscape. Only in the final scene—when María unwraps her game show prize—does Sorin hint at something supernatural at work. It’s a perfectly realized grace note whose lack of any obvious message only reinforces the movie’s abundant wisdom and patient humanism.

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