A geologist is conducting a field study of the arid, remote serto region of northeastern Brazil, in preparation for the construction of a canal. Despite the occasional rented companionship [ahem], this traveling scientist seems profoundly alone on the road, adrift in his analytic reports and his musings on the recently failed relationship from which he's fleeing.
Oddly enough, we never actually see the narrator-protagonist (voiced by Santos), even though I Travel Because I Have To, I Come Back Because I Love You is an intimate tracing of both his monthlong trip and personal anguish. Instead, directors Karim Ainouz and Marcelo Gomes manage a Herzogian repurposing of decades-old documentary footage mixed with newer material, all narratively bound together by the actor's wry, dejected voice-overs on life, love and rock strata. It's a dizzying, dazzling DIY travelogue whose age is nearly impossible to pinpoint, thanks to its aesthetic hodgepodge of Super-8 and digital-video clips interspersed with stills; it literally and figuratively goes from sharp-focused to blurry and faded, and back again. But the movie's true brilliance comes from its portrayal of how the world curls around you in the grip of heartache---every song on the radio, every face you see, every story you're told reflecting only what you've lost.