Bressonian Austerity + Truck-Stop Hookers in I Travel…


Road movies don’t get any purer than I Travel Because I Have to, I Come Back Because I Love You, a visual reverie that is Bressonian in its austerity and transcendence, only with truck-stop hookers. Narrated by José, an unseen geologist (Irandhir Santos) who is on a 30-day assignment in the Brazilian backcountry to scout a possible canal route, the film consists of a succession of subjective shots of the passing landscape and seemingly endless highway. This initially patience-taxing monotony slyly builds into a portrait of José’s bitter heartsickness over a recent breakup, as well as a meditation on the destructive potential of movement for movement’s sake. The fleeting scenes of serenity and intimacy captured along the road thus not only taunt José, they hint at what stands to be lost by the canal’s construction. This is no socio-ecological harangue, though: From José’s absurdist litany of geological data to his cynical, dissolute indulgence with said working girls to his ultimate (possibly deluded) acceptance of forward propulsion as the essence of life, his journey forms a moving existential arc. Like the best trips, I Travel goes places that couldn’t have been anticipated.