The best road movies make the audience feel as though they are part of the trip. The simple but not simple-minded Intimate Stories invites us to celebrate our imperfect lives on the highways of Argentina, as we follow three Patagonians on their way to San Julian: Elderly Don Justo hitches 200 miles to reunite with his long lost pooch; Roberto, a salesman searching for love and the perfect birthday cake; and Maria, a struggling mother, participates in a game show.
Sorin, back from a 13-year hiatus, is in fine humanist form. But he might have been better off telling just two stories; sadly, Maria is just a sketch barely intertwined into the movie. Otherwise, we have Justo’s spirit and Roberto’s understated (thank God) version of Benigni. And after the bloodless Closer and the sneakily contemptuous Sideways were unduly overpraised, Intimate Stories is refreshing: Sorin actually cares for his salt-of-the-earth characters. His little movie has a heart whose beat is not easily ignored.