Set in the early 1990s, Upon Open Sky opens with a road trip between father and son. The adventure takes a tragic turn when, following a collision with a truck, twelve-year-old Salvador’s father dies.

Two years later, Salvador remains withdrawn. Meanwhile, older brother Fernando is consumed with rage. His obsession with car accidents and death fuels his plans to kill the truck driver he blames for the accident.

Fernando decides to sneak off on a road trip when their newly married mother leaves on holiday with her husband.  Their new stepsister Paula catches onto the plan, inviting herself and her boyfriend along for the ride.

Throughout this journey, we watch the three siblings navigate their changing relationships. While the road trip started with palpable tension, when Paula’s boyfriend gets left behind, it triggers a shift in dynamics. The siblings soon realise as family, whatever happens, they’ll stick together.

The sparse desert landscape and drawn-out scenes capture the isolation and loneliness that grips the grief-stricken, regardless of who is by your side. The actors’ performances are beautifully nuanced and bring us into the all-consuming nature of their grief, and feelings of being trapped in its grip.

Mexican novelist and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga wrote Upon Open Sky for his children Mariana and Santiago to make their directional debut. While at times too long, there’s power in the moments that make you question your own moral judgement.

Threaded in-between scenes of open road and big sky, are moments and storylines that offer insight into the characters’ humanity. At its climax, the film questions the nature of grief and how best to move through it. Should we seek retribution, or seek to forgive the unforgivable?

Upon Open Sky is playing at the HSBC Spanish Film Festival from 15th June. Book your tickets here.