Leonardo DiCesari's "Buena Vida" was a surprise when it was shown on cable recently. Argentine films are hard to come by, so it was a welcome relief from the mediocrity being shown. Argentina has gone through some rough times lately. Mr. DiCesari places his film among average people who are having a hard time trying to make a living, especially in Buenos Aires, where the story takes place.
Hernan is seen at the beginning of the movie helping his brother and sister in law as they are getting ready for the trip to Spain, where they are relocating. Hernan is left alone in a medium size house in a suburb. He seems to be a messenger delivering things out of a run down agency. One day, at the gas station, he gets to talk to Pato, an attractive woman working the gas pump. Hernan invites Pato to rent the now empty room his brother has vacated.
Pato is a mysterious young woman. She realizes Hernan likes her and she decides to go along in returning his amorous advances. Little prepares Hernan for the surprise that awaits him when he gets home one night. Pato's parents and her young daughter have moved in without a warning. The father, Venancio, an oily character, thanks Hernan, who thinks this is a temporary arrangement.
Well, little does Hernan knows that Pato's parents have come to stay. Dispossession laws in Argentina can take up to two years and they are costly. Venancio and his wife decide to turn the house into a small bakery making snacks that are sold on the streets. Nothing that Hernan does to get rid of the visitors that are occupying the house, until he decides to take matters into his own hands, thus scaring the invaders.
By that time, Moro, who is not able to have any sort of relationship with Hernan, is being pursued by a handsome young man, Jose Luis, a client of the gas station. By this time, Venancio finally understand he has overstayed his welcome. Moro realizes the great opportunity when she discovers that Jose Luis is more affluent than Hernan. In a brilliant scene we witness Venancio, his wife and the young girl appearing at Jose Luis' building. The next scene is brilliant, Venancio is seated at the dinner table thanking Jose Luis with the same speech he used to thank Hernan.
The movie is a metaphor for all what's wrong in the Argentine society. The unemployment after the crisis of the beginning of this century is rampant. People will do whatever they can in order to subsist. Venancio is a leech preying on innocent victims; at the same time, he has great ideas in how to become an entrepreneur that has no problems taking over whatever free space he can get. The sales people employed by Venancio gets are treated roughly by an implacable boss who couldn't care less what his workers excuses are. Venancio is only interested in the bottom line!
Hernan is played by Ignacio Tonelli, who does well as the unsuspecting victim of a wise guy. The attractive Moro Alighieri makes the best out of her portrayal of the devious Pato. It's Venancio though, who is the star of the film. As played brilliantly by Oscar Nunez, Venancio proves to have a knack for getting something for nothing.
Leonardo DiCesari makes an interesting film debut. He shows he is a voice to be reckoned with in the Argentine cinema.
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