If the goal is to reheat a chestnut, the least a director can do is hold the material to the flame. That’s precisely how Francisco Varone’s debut feature manages to keep fresh this timeworn two-hander about a pair of mismatched souls placed in close confines and sent on a spiritual journey. Fate and a series of wrong numbers to a defunct car-rental service bring together hustling slacker Sebastian (Rodrigo De la Serna) and Jalil (Ernesto Suarez), a frail septuagenarian asking to be driven 1800 miles from Argentina to Bolivia so that he and his brother can embark on a journey to Mecca. Sebastian’s gradual exposure to and understanding of the Muslim culture is never forced, and the pitfalls that generally lurk below the surface of this type of road picture — notably, cheap sentiment — are mostly side-stepped. Known primarily for his work as stage actor, this is 75-year-old Suarez’s first foray into film. His performance was worth the wait. (2015) — Scott Marks
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