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An honest film that celebrates the strength of family
howard.schumann13 October 2003
Fernando (Federico Luppi), a Professor of Literature in his sixties in Buenos Aires and his wife Lili (Mercedes Sampietro), a social worker are respected in the community and loving partners. Their world is turned upside down however when Fernando receives notice that he is being asked to retire early. The enforced retirement, a result of the economic crisis in Argentina, comes as a complete shock and he and his wife are forced to make drastic decisions that threaten the foundations of their comfortable life. Based on the novel "The Renaissance" by Lorenzo F. Aristariain, Common Ground, the new film by Argentine director Adolfo Aristarain (A Place in the World, Martin), is a story about love, getting older, and discovering what is important in life. It is also an acid social comment on the current state of life in Argentina where thousands of Argentinans have had to face a similar end to their secure middle class existence.

Fernando and Lili have a son Pedro (Pablo Rago) who lives comfortably in Spain with his wife and two children. A leftist man of strong convictions, Fernando tells his son about his meager pension left to him by the university but refuses his assistance. Instead he berates him for abandoning his country and selling out to make money. When the couple returns to Argentina, they are forced to sell their apartment in the city, purchase a farm and bravely set out on a new style of living. Their adjustment to rural life has its moments of sadness but their striving to live out their lives with dignity and purpose is profoundly human. Though Common Ground does not reach the heights of Aristarain's A Place in the World, it is an honest film and one that celebrates the strength of a loving family.
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Common places
jotix10026 April 2005
Adolfo Aristrain is one of the best Argentine directors working today. As proved by his previous films, this director goes deep into the souls of the characters he paints for us on the screen canvas. Working on Lorenzo F. Aristrain's novel, in which he is credited with co-writing the screen adaptation together with Kathy Saavedra, the director achieves a tremendously appealing film that will resonate with audiences of all ages.

The story presents us with a university professor who suddenly loses his job at the beginning of the film. He is seen telling his students to be honest in whatever they decide to do in life. In a way, he is asking, perhaps, to emulate him, since he has given all the students his best and more productive years. Finding himself unemployed, and with no assets to speak of, makes him think about what to do with the new reality.

In another society, maybe, Professor Robles would have gone looking for another job, but in Argentina, without any other skills to account for himself, he is a casualty. Robles finds it difficult to confess to his wife his new status. Lili, a social worker, loves him and offers to sell her family's apartment, where the couple lives, as a way to get things under control. A visit to their son in Spain doesn't change anything for Fernando.

When the kind lawyer Carlos hears about a small farm for sale, he offers advice to Fernando that it might be the proper thing to do, as a way to reduce expenses and get out of expensive Buenos Aires into a more modest environment. In this country place, Fernando and Lili find happiness, but unfortunately, it's short lived because fate intervenes.

In Federico Luppi, director Aristrain has found the perfect actor to play Fernando Robles. Mr. Luppi captures the essence of this troubled soul in ways that amaze us. This actor is any director's dream! Having seen Mr. Luppi on stage, as well as in his many screen appearances, one can say he is an extraordinary actor.

Mercedes Sampietro, as Lili, compliments Mr. Luppi. Ms. Sampietro is excellent in her role and adds a layer to the texture of the film because obviously, she can relate to this woman. Arturo Puig as Carlos, the lawyer, and Valentina Bassi, as the younger Natacha, are perfect in their roles.

Ultimately, this is Mr. Aristrain's triumph for getting all these elements to work in such fine fashion. "Common Places" will touch the heart of the viewer.
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A long well played tango
pifas31 March 2004
There's no other way to describe Lugares comunes but as a beautiful movie. It's a well constructed story that revolves around a literature teacher who's forced into an early retirement due to his ideals. From the beginning he's writing lose notes about the way he feels, and this is useful as a voice in off that narrates high points of the plot as it is also the key that serves mainly as an inner perspective in some matters. He talks about revolution and democracy in the state in an Argentina beaten by the government, depicting the economical and social issues as well as it's day to day surviving culture. The other characters here are his wife (who's from Spain) their son (who lives there) and a close friend of the teacher, who happens to be a lawyer dating a younger woman. Then, by their precarious situation, the couple sell their flat in Buenos Aires and move to the country. That's basically the screenplay: how they learn to live with their new situation.

Luppi, as the professor, is wonderful; he has a natural driven force that get us in the inner struggles of the character, and his insights are clever, methodical and somehow illustrative, describing and dissecting terms like lucidity (in words and feelings). The dialogues are well guided by a smart hand so, even when there's plenty of them, never get to bore. The others characters are well performed, rounding the experience and adding strength to a tone that goes from somber to bright, and even when it's premise is mainly sad, never turns into one to weep at; it is one to wonder and makes us think rather than sink our mood into mourning or feel sorry for them. It is, as my title says, one long and well played tango based on a biting reality which goes smooth hence pretty delightful.

I give it four stars out of five.
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A necessary film
ojosabiertos21 September 2002
Aristarain is one the greatest film-maker in Argentina; if he were born in an other country (more economically powerful) he would probably be a sort of classic film-maker in the history of cinema. Aristarain belongs to an old generation of argentinian artists who has been wise enough in order to keep on with his believes and aesthetics but without being stuck in the past. His movies are fresh and sharp. He doesn't lose his grip which makes his narratives very well deployed as well as subordinated to a couple of constant topics: the lost of national identity, or the dialectical swing between subjectivity and social life which is doubled in another kind of paradoxical choice between remain faithful towards oneself or to give up and obey the conservative imperative of petty-bourgeois which demand to fit in the status quo. Lugares comunes looks like a minimalist film, but it is a essential one because whatever is unnecessary in this story is not included. Luppi, by the way the best actor from Las pampas, is a literature teacher, a prototype of middle class member who is retired in advance. He is a leftist man who have found that the dream of another society started in 1879, and after that date that longing for another kind of society has been systematically betrayed. Sampietro, his wife, is an spanish woman who work with the poor. After being left with a miserable pension they have to reconsider where they want to (and can) live. They finally end running a farm. The film has many virtues: for instance, one is able to see how social history determine and comprise the psyche life of individuals. Moreover, Lugares comunes is a document of Argentinian decadence, a very satisfactory tale of how people manage to keep its decency. But it is also a love story and a philosophical meditation about getting older, the limits of reason, and how to live when there is not any transcendental meaning except the fact of being alive. The name of the film is an ironic antithesis because Lugares comunes is at odds with common sense: it is a honest critic of each ideological gadgets which has made of Argentina a ghost and creepy territory where people want to fade or voluntary exile if they still strive for being alive with any gesture of human integrity.
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Let's talk about life...
rainking_es11 December 2005
I've always thought that Adolfo Aristaráin is not only a cinema director, he's a philosopher,a thinker, a so lucid mind, and overall an idealist. Cinema is not just something to entertain people but a powerful tool to express himself.

"Lugares Comunes" (Common places) tells the story of an Argentinian middle-aged couple (played wonderfully by the great Federico Luppi and Mercedes Sampietro which decide to move to the country from Buenos Aires. He's just been fired from the school in which he's been teaching' for most than 30 years (because of his left-winged ideas). So, he a his wife cannot afford to live in B. Aires anymore. That's the base for a long, overwhelming reflection about life, honesty, unconditional love, commitment, and all those things that seem to be a little "old-fashioned" nowadays (but they are not).

This is a movie to think about, you must focus on it, you have to assimilate what you're hearing... Otherwise, you'll be wasting your time. This ain't nonsense and hollow entertainment, this is something else. Let Aristaráin open your eyes... you won't regret.

*My rate: 8.5/10
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Beautiful, Critical, Human, Sensitive, Real
claudio_carvalho8 January 2006
In Buenos Aires, a few days before traveling to Spain with his beloved wife Liliana Rovira (Mercedes Sampietro) to visit their son Pedro (Carlos Santamaria), the leftist Literature Professor Fernando Robles (Federico Luppi) is compulsory retired in the University, and he concludes that it is impossible to live with his pension. The crisis in Argentina does not allow Fernando to get a new job, and his wife decides to sell her family's apartment and move to a small farm in Cordoba to reduce their expenses. Once in the country, while adapting to the new lifestyle, a tragedy happens.

"Lugares Comunes" is a very beautiful, critical, human, sensitive and real film about love, life, adaptation and convictions in the third age. The story takes place in Argentina, but could be in Brazil or any South American country, where in general people can not keep their status with their retirement pension, being forced to continue working to survive, or to fall from middle-class to very poor class. This touching narrative has a perfect pace and flows naturally, supported by the impressive performances of Federico Luppi and Mercedes Sampietro. All the characters are credible and beautiful (with the exception of the head of the university), and this movie is a gem. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Lugares Comuns"("Common Places")
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One of the best
kinolieber17 September 2005
After seeing Martin (Hache), I was looking forward to seeing another film by this director. I was not disappointed. This film is every bit as good as Martin, and that is saying a lot. What a wonderful, touching, wise, and inspiring film! There are moments of such emotional intensity, I was often overwhelmed. Particularly in the scene where he meets Tutti, the writing and performances are so beautiful I found myself sobbing. And such marvelous, loving humor often accents the serious topics that the film touches on. And unexpected moments that make you smile after you gasp. It is such a shame that these films are not available in the U.S. I would so much like to see this one again and share it with friends.
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Must see it
jlmartiferriol31 May 2005
"Lugares Comunes" is an excellent film. No doubt the IMDb rates it with a 8,2 (this is clearly above the average grades I have seen, and I have been exploring this database extensively).

You probably have to come from Spain or Argentina to really pick up all the subtleties conveyed in the movie. However, the feelings and emotions the film explores are universal.

I really like Fernando Luppi (he has been involved in many many good films, like "Martín H", or "Nadie hablará de nosotras hasta que hayamos muerto"), but please note Mercedes Sampietro (still the President of the "Academia del Cine" in Spain), who plays the role of her life (so far) in this movie. What she does is something similar as to what Halle Berry shows in Monsters' Ball. Just watch the last minutes of the film, she doesn't speak, she doesn't need to...
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Made me reflect on my priorities in life, what is joyful.
Emperor-826 July 2003
This film made me aware of the economic, social and political situation in present-day Argentina. I enjoyed the civics and history lessons. But more importantly, I loved the human tale of an older married couple struggling to survive with dignity in that environment. Beautifully acted, especially the wife. I highly recommend it.
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Aging: The Hardships and the Rewards
gradyharp4 December 2006
LUGARES COMUNES (Common Ground) is yet another sensitive Argentinean film that has the courage to deal with the bumpy political life of Argentina as well as the equally rocky road to aging. Based on the novel by Lorenzo F. Aristarain and directed by Adolfo Aristarain this is a film of sunlight and shadows - and those clouds that promise to unveil the sun despite passing darkness.

Fernando Robles (Federico Luppi) is a writer and university professor in Buenos Aires who is informed before his planned trip to Madrid to visit his son Pedro (Carlos Santamaría) and daughter-in-law Natacha (Valentina Bassi) that he is being placed in early retirement: the crumbling government of Argentina cannot support such things as education! After an exquisite farewell of sage advice to his students on what is important in the role of a teacher, he goes home to his loving wife of many years Liliana (Mercedes Sampietro) to prepare for their journey to Madrid. At the airport Liliana senses sadness in Fernando and he confesses that he has been 'fired', that they have little money to live on in Buenos Aires: he covers his sadness by buying Liliana perfumes she loves. This couple is bonded so beautifully it makes us weep.

In Madrid the couple is forced to stay with the son and daughter but the closeness of this familial proximity is intolerable when Fernando informs his son of his financial situation. Pedro is cold and harsh and is in life for money and refuses to assist his parents. The couple leaves, returning to Argentina where they under advice from lawyer Carlos (Arturo Puig) sell their home and move to the country where they plan to grow grapes - a return to the purity of the land. But fate intervenes and the story ends in a manner that leaves the viewer sad but wiser.

The cast is sterling and the direction is first rate. This is one of those films that should be required viewing for many reasons, but especially for people who are approaching the time of retirement and the fear that holds. Highly recommended for a large viewing audience. In Spanish with English subtitles. Grady Harp
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The common places where lives go
Yorsh11 December 2003
How to start again when all the hopes are over? How to keep loving the same woman during all your life? How to change without loosing your ideals? How to get old and feel as the first day of your youth?

Basic questions, with basic answers that not everybody is willing to hear. Common places where most of us try not to go.

This film is poetry into a movie. One of the best scripts contents of the Latin American cinema. Aristarain shows one more time to be one of the best ever Argentinean directors.

Take your time to enjoy it.
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ergalfi18 February 2005
After to have seen "Martín (Hache)" was very I very excited to see the new thing of Aristarain, and although it does not surpass to Martín, if it shows (I create not in its magnitude) the so difficult situation to us that it faces the Argentina of years for here. A professor is dismissed and he and their woman has to do like making to survive. And although the first part this written very well and lets see the financial and moral shortage to us that the personage of Federico Luppi faces, is in second that falls completely, because they leave to a Buenos Aires side and the crisis. And this is a pain then could have been films that outside testimony of the fight of thousands of Argentineans to bear its miseries: economic and of self-esteem.
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Too many words
hanrahanpm25 March 2005
I have read this movie. I don't believe I've seen it. I have never had a problem with subtitles and frankly, enjoy how good movies overcome the disadvantage of subtitles by causing you to be unaware of their presence. This was another story. The actors seemed charming and believable, but there was so much to read that I could hardly follow their actions. I watched some of it late at night and put it down to tiredness on my part. The following morning I gave it another shot and frankly, was very disappointed. I had read such good things about the movie and really felt for the predicament of the protagonist. Even tho' I hate to say this, this was a clear case where dubbing would have been better. I can't believe what I've just said but mean it sincerely.
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The Sound of One Man Reading
jeanmaru21 July 2004
The reason to watch this movie is Mercedes Sampietro as Liliana, wife of Fernando, the male protagonist. Fernando rhapsodizes about how he and his wife are so comfortable in each other's silences, but the audience does not get to enjoy these silences, because he keeps interrupting with voice-overs, which are excerpts from his journal, aka Notebook #19 (thankfully, he doesn't read #1-18). At the beginning of the film, Fernando lectures his university students, future teachers themselves, about getting students to think critically and to ask questions. But the film doesn't give the audience time to think. Instead, it hits us over the head with Fernando's pedantic pronouncements. The character of Liliana is an ideal wife who can't possibly exist except in the imagination, but Sampietro makes her believable and sympathetic. Fernando and Liliana's marriage is based on love and trust, which we'd know from watching them interact, but instead we have to suffer through a bizarre scene in which an attractive middle-aged woman flirts with Fernando, then gets teary-eyed during his long-winded speech about marital fidelity. I'm sure the director meant the tears differently, but I interpreted them as tears of boredom.
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