José Renato, geologist, 35 years old, is sent on a fieldtrip to the scrublands of
the Sertão, a semi-arid isolated region in the Northeast of Brazil. The goal of
his survey is to assess possible routes for a water canal from the region’s only
voluminous river. For many of the region’s inhabitants, the canal will be a
lifeline, the chance of a future and source of hope. But for those living on the
canal’s direct course, it means only requisitions, departure and loss. Many of the
properties through which José Renato passes will be flooded; many of the people
and families will be relocated.
As the fieldtrip progresses, we sense that José Renato has something in common
with the places he visits: emptiness, a sense of abandonment and isolation.
Little by little we discover that he too has been abandoned by his partner. The
desolation of the landscape seems to echo in José Renato, making the trip
increasingly difficult. His geological research is slowly pervaded by a sensation
of groundlessness, an incessant pining for his ex-wife and a yearning to go home.
But he decides to press ahead, to continue the trip, in the hope that the crossing can somehow transmute his feelings. Like an astronaut who has travelled in outer space, or a sailor who has crossed the oceans, for José Renato, nothing will ever be the same again.
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