Saturday, April 2, 2022

Backpackers (AKA: Without Saying Goodbye): Movie Review

Come for the romance, stay for the scenery and then go look up trips to Peru.
Released with two titles Backpackers and Without Saying Goodbye and both titles fit. A romantic dramedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, the movie stays true to the genre’s format but also doesn’t feel stale. That’s entirely thinks to the location. Set in Cusco, Peru, it doesn’t just make you want to visit there, it makes you want to live there.   2022

Directed by: Bruno Ascenzo

Screenplay by: Bruno Ascenzo

Starring: Stephanie Cayo, Mazi Iglesias

Salvador (Maxi Iglesias) is a Spanish businessman - hot, rich, successful. He’s off to Peru to build a hotel (or in Ariana’s words, “concrete”) over-looking one of the wonders of the world, Machu Picchu. There’s a subplot about how Salvador is trying to impress his father because his father doesn’t believe he’s capable of running a successful business, and it’s as banal as it sounds.

When Salvador arrives in Cusco, it’s an impossibly charming, gorgeous hotel-like place with the beautiful Ariana (Stephanie Cayo). As expected, she’s a carefree girl who has no grand ambitions apart from enjoying her surroundings. They hook-up right away because they are two very hot people, and I don’t know if they had other reasons, but the film doesn’t need anything more. Getting the romance started right away is partly why the film doesn’t feel as stale as it otherwise would. There’s no dragging out the inevitable here and that is refreshing.

The movie takes all the expected routes: Salvador and Ariana try to make it work by focusing on their similarities (love of hiking) and trying to ignore their differences (he’s obsessed with work and she just lets life happen as it does), and then they bond because – shocking – he does actually have feelings and she isn’t as care-free as she implies. As immature and hackneyed as that all sounds, it plays out nicely. The romance is there, the comedy-drama is there, and the actors fit their characters impeccably well. Everything about the movie feels right instead of the tired formula that it easily could have been.

It's an overly predictable story, but the charms of the movie are found in the locales, and in the actors, but mostly in the locales. Come for the romance, stay for the scenery and then go look up trips to Peru. A country I have become obsessed with despite having no predilection towards before Backpackers arrived on Netflix.