The 2012 documentary, The Last Station (La Última Estación) directed by Cristián Soto and Catalina Vergara is a visually stunning, emotionally moving, and introspective look into the passing of time and lives in the Padre Hurtado retirement home in Chile. It is a film that has unfortunately flown somewhat under the radar in the English-speaking world, but is one not to be missed.
The opening scene sets the mood and tempo for the rest of the running time – unhurried, methodical, contemplative. The film slows down time for the audience to the pace of the residents. Each opening shot is a beautiful and tragic composition that each stand in their own right as works of cinematographic stills.
We see a woman sitting on her bed, staring out her window, silhouettes of others sitting on benches outside, seemingly pondering everything and nothing. The action, if we may call it that, begins when an elderly woman is dropped off in the dining room at the retirement home by her daughter, apparently pressed for time, who repeatedly tells her mother that she will be staying with these new, unknown people, she will be fed, and not to worry.
As the daughter rushes off, the woman sits in silence, and the others in the room express their sympathy for the poor old woman who was just dropped off – abandoned.
The film is made up of vignettes, testimonies, and recollections of the residents, recounting what they believed were fulfilling lives and are now left to reflect on the meaning of it all (or a lack thereof). It touches on themes of isolation, abandonment, and looming ends.
Even though we watch as the days go by in the film, we are transported into a place where time seems to stand still – most days are the same routine, acted out again and again.
La última estación (Catalina Vergara, Cristián Soto, 2012) DA Films.
For a viewer who wishes to watch an uplifting movie, this is perhaps not the film for them. However, a lively character, the retirement home’s resident radio DJ, brings a joyfulness to the film, as well as to the people of Padre Hurtado and their everyday lives.
By recording these dreamy, eerily beautiful soundscapes and broadcasting them over the radio, the residents listen and are carried to different memories, times and worlds. A review made up of solely words does not do the film justice for the directors’ expertise in crafting such a poignant combination of sound and images that this film displays.
The cinematography of the film is incredible. Certain scenes display thoughtful juxtapositions of subjects on the screen that invoke even more dimensions to the subjects of life, death, and time.
The film is slow, but mirrors the tempo and existence of the residents of Padre Hurtado. Just like the camera captures scenes of people lingering on and remembering, this is a truly unforgettable and well-crafted work that will stay with you long after you have watched it.
Watch The Last Station Film at www.dafilms.com