We follow the life of Brazilian couple Laura and Israël, who are in their mid-thirties and have a five-year-old son, Lucas. They live together, but seem to have lost interest in one another's thoughts and cares. Their relationship seems headed for the rocks, and the only one who seems to still be looking for something from life is Lucas. Laura feels the warning signs of impending catastrophe. Then she disappears, and some time later Israël learns that Laura is dead, her body in Argentina. He doesn't tell anyone – not even their son. As they were not married and have no savings, Israël faces the practical problems of bringing Laura's body home. The last part of the film flashes back to Laura's bus journey south and her encounters along the way with other (female) passengers, and particularly with a man who reminds her of her partner.
Desterro – 'exile' – is the first fiction film by Brazilian filmmaker, poet, screenwriter and casting director Maria Clara Escobar. Although every frame breathes the zeitgeist of Latin America, what is happening in the turbulent outside world seems of little consequence. The question posed is more general, angrier and more urgent: what is it like to be a human being, a woman, here? Deliberately switching between compelling emotional realism and more abstract forms of identification and reflection, Desterro is a big bang, from which several films explode in different directions, on the way to a poignant, devastating conclusion.