Elsa y Fred (2005)
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"Elsa y Fred" is a sensitive romance in the third age, proving that it is never too late to love, and a great homage to Federico Fellini's "La Dolce Vita". The simple and beautiful story is supported by magnificent performances of Manuel Alexandre and China Portillo, and an effective screenplay that appropriately blends romance, drama and humor. A dear friend of mine recommended this movie and I would like to thank her advice. In the end, there is a wonderful message of hope and love - people should live and not be afraid of dying. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Elsa & Fred - Um Amor de Paixão" ("Elsa & Fred - A Love of Passion")
I don't know why "Elsa and Fred" took so long for this film to reach the U.S., but I finally saw it in Orange County, California, just last week. It's a warm and touching film largely due to the two main characters. Both of them (Elsa and Fred) are living alone in adjacent Madrid apartments. Fred is withdrawn and still getting used to being a widower. He is a very practical, straight-laced gentleman. In contrast, Elsa lives in a fantasy world conjured up by her dreams of someday wading in the Trevi Fountain in Rome ala Fellini's "La Dolci Vita." She a persistent liar, risk taker and bold adventuress. She gradually draws Fred out of his shell and into her world. Who says that there can't be romance after 70?!
The two actors who play Elsa and Fred are remarkable. Their dialogues and facial expressions give their characters real depth, tenderness and life. Their years as seniors gradually whither away in the film as they slowly fall in love and become "teenagers" again figuratively speaking. The theme of "Trevi Fountain" runs throughout the film from the beginning during the credits until the very end.
Yes, Americans can enjoy this foreign film. I certainly did!
Beware: you'll find yourself crying and smiling like an idiot throughout this beautiful story.
Is there anything I'd leave out of it? Not a single word, not a single take, nor a music note. The acting is top notch. I'd rather say "heavyweight". Maybe it is just that I haven't seen such performances in a long time.
This is a film to open your heart, no matter the age, to a reality few of us like to think about. Prepare yourself for a ride of joy and happiness in a world so full of trouble.
I know the United States will never watch an Argentine film and consider its cast seriously, but who knows? We've had Best Foreign Film nominations in the past. At her 83 years old, and gratefully for the ones who adore her, she is able to make at least one film per year. In this year's work, she plays Elsa, the leading woman of "Elsa & Fred".
The movie's title proposes a clichéd romantic comedy, coming from the United States, like, for example, "Alex & Emma", "The prince & me", you know The thing is it is from Argentina, and it has one element that separates it grandly from the titles I've mentioned; it comes by the side of age. Elsa and Fred (Manuel Alexandre) are really old persons, supposedly in their 70's, and they are falling in love as the youngsters are in the latter films.
It is important to say that if the movie had no image, and if the voices weren't so revealing, Elsa and Fred would be just like those youngsters. This is just because of the words they say, because of the way they speak, however their story is sad. Fred has recently lost his wife, and he is locked up in his apartment, that is just next to Elsa's. She has sons, grandsons, brothers, husbands, I don't know how many because she is a tricky woman, but director Marcos Carnevale and writing partner Marcela Guerty (writers of great Argentine shows like "22, El loco" and powerful movies like "El día que me amen") try to keep it as real as possible so we can believe we can find love again and again, no matter our age. It doesn't reach that much, though, and this and other stuff that are not worth mentioning make the film fall a little short from good.
What was amazing was to see the movie theater replete with old people; people as old as the film's main characters. And none of them was alone. What I'm trying to say is that the film achieved an objective in getting these couples to watch the movie. For their pleasure, there were lots of beautiful places in Carnevale's camera, and also incredible stars in the cast, including Roberto Carnaghi, who plays one of Elsa's sons and Federico Luppi, who appears late but amazes as always. He is just there for three minutes, three amazing minutes.
Ironically, because I said this could be an American film, the opening is undoubtedly at the level of one of those films; with beautiful breathtaking images, like in dreams, with water in the middle and blurry frames explained by Lito Vitale's unique music, in his unique language, which makes me wonder how come he never made music for films all around the world.
But in the end, it is China Zorrilla, whose mannerisms win the audiences' hearts, and whose grace is untouched, as if she was still a teenager in search of her first love.
China Zorilla from Argentina,87 years young is Elsa.
Manuel Alexandre from Spain, 92 years young is Fred.
This is their age this year, Thw film was made in 2005. In the movie they both are about 80 years. You completely ignore there ages, as they are ageless.
Fred moves into the apartment next to Elsa's they meet & course sine both are lonely, Fred is very introverted & Elso is very outgoing. They become vast friends & of course more than friends.
The director Marcos Carnevale who also co-wrote ( this very interesting love story of 2 seniors,) with Marcela Guerty did a superb job.
The film was made in Madrid with the ending done in Rome at the Trevi Fountain. In fact the never-to-be forgotten scene in OPEN CITY using the fountain is lovingly created.
This film was only shown in handful of theatres in 2008, & will definitely be on one of my best lists of the year,
For those that have Cinemax it is on this month, Also available with NETFLIX,. Do NOT miss this marvelous movie. The rating is PG,. the subject matter is a bit mature for children
Ratings **** (out of 4 ) 99 points (out of 100) IMDb 10 (out of 10)*
* I rarely if ever award 100 points to a movie, as you can see this ones is close. It is that good.
Some of my favorite scenes of the movie is where Elsa is inside her car singing "Hoy puede ser un gran dia" ("Today can be a great day") by the amazing Joan Manuel Serrat. Here's the translation of the song:
Today can be a great day, think of it that way, making the most of it or wasting it... it all depends on you. Give the day to the experience of a new start, and receive it like a party that you never want to end.
Don't let your day fade, consume life completely. Today can be a great day, make it work.
Today can be a great day where everything is about to be discovered. If you live it as the last one you are ever going to live. Take your instincts and let them breathe out in the sun. And don't restrict your pleasures, make them endless if you can.
If the routine doesn't let you breathe say NO to mediocrity. Today can be a great day, give yourself an opportunity.
Today can be a great day impossible to recover, an unique thing... don't let it escape. That everything around you is there just for you. Don't look from a window, get inside of it.
Fight for what you want and don't get desperate if everything isn't okay. Today can be a great day... and tomorrow too.
Alfredo is an old widower who has lived a very orderly and unexciting life. His daughter arranges for him to move to a new apartment and his rock-solid retirement plans are upset due to his eccentric neighbor, Elsa. Unlike Alfredo, she is vivacious and full of life--and loves to make up lies about the fantastic life she's led. To put it bluntly, she's a bit of a wacko....but a fun wacko. And, they soon decide to throw caution to the wind and enjoy their final days together.
While the ending is a bit of a downer (I gotta be honest about this), I thoroughly enjoyed the film because these two quirky characters seemed so unlike the people you normally see in movies. They are not walking clichés but older people who have needs, desires and dreams--and who refuse to grow old gracefully! Plummer and MacLaine are simply terrific and it also didn't hurt that they had a very strong supporting cast--which is surprising considering that this is a relatively low-budget film. But, despite the budget, it really doesn't skimp on anything and really delivers. Plus, it made me smile...and not enough movies do that.
By the way, a new American version was just released starring Christopher Plummer and Shirley MacLaine. It's a bit different (Fred is MUCH crankier and the segment in Rome is only talked about AFTER the fact--you don't see them in Rome) but just about as good. Both are terrific and fun.
It has Love and humor, showing your never too old !!!
China Zorrilla steals the movie......she is wild, crazy, zany and unpredictable...and a lot of trouble ! I hope her other movies are like this....anyone else seen her previous movies....please tell us which ones to see.....
I loved the scene when they were at the restaurant. Its priceless... Her driving, faces, and acts of innocence are priceless.
Its on cable but without subtitles for now...have to wait for the DVD I guess