1 item from 2004
It's not too early to start anticipating that this outstanding Argentine-Spanish co-production will be one of the Academy Award nominees for foreign film. Close to perfection in every regard, provoking more laughs and tears than all the films one sees in any given season combined -- and a movie that would make such masters as Frank Capra and Billy Wilder proud -- "Son of the Bride" (El Hijo de la Novia) earned the Special Grand Prix of the Jury award in main competition at the World Film Festival of Montreal (HR 9/4).
Director and co-writer Juan Jose Campanella worked for much of the past decade in the United States in television and won two Emmy Awards for directing. He co-wrote the screenplay of "Son" with Fernando Castets after the pair collaborated on Campanella's 1999 feature "Same Love, Same Rain". While the Spanish-language "Son" has strong appeal to mature audiences, a smart domestic distributor could take it on the art house circuit, where the film could achieve a resounding success.
Rafael (Ricardo Darin) is a 42-year-old restaurant owner and divorcee who wants to change his life. Always on his cell phone dealing with work problems, he's got a beautiful girlfriend (Natalia Verbeke) and a loyal staff, but money problems and pressures to sell his business are taking a toll. He has a young daughter who lives most of the time with his ex-wife, while his aging father, Nino (Hector Alterio), who started the restaurant Rafael took over, is a gentle, supportive soul.
The title refers to Nino's desire to grant the decades-long wish of his wife, Rafael's mother (Norma Aleandro), who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, to have a church wedding. In scene after exquisite scene one gets to knows these characters and sympathize with them. Rafael is a man in crisis who does not judge others and does not blame the world for his problems. But he's also not always aware of how much love and support he has to help him get to the next stage of life.
When he has a heart attack but recovers to nearly his former energetic self, Rafael decides he needs more "freedom" and sells the restaurant, while also contemplating a move to Mexico. Fortunately, those around him, including a childhood friend-turned-actor (Eduardo Blanco), are not altogether behind him, and the lead makes the best of what he's already got.
From the constant stream of little jokes and bittersweet moments involving his parents, work and the women in his life to the unabashedly emotional peaks, Rafael's story is so uncommonly rendered with cinematic skill that it frankly leaves one delirious with admiration. The cinematography, music, editing and, most of all, the performances cannot be praised too much.
SON OF THE BRIDE
Pol-ka Prods., Patagonik Film Group
Jempsa, Tornasol Films
Director: Juan Jose Campanella
Screenwriters: Juan Jose Campanella, Fernando Castets
Producers: Adrian Suar, Fernando Blanco
Director of photography: Daniel Shulman
Production designer: Juan Vera
Editor: Camilo Antolini
Music: Angel Illaramendi
Rafael: Ricardo Darin
Nino: Hector Alterio
Norma: Norma Aleandro
Juan Carlos: Eduardo Blanco
Naty: Natalia Verbeke
Running time -- 123 minutes
No MPAA rating
1 item from 2004
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