Mercedes the Argentine

On average Argentina produces around fifty feature films a year. It would hold a place in the Spanish speaking work for cinematic endeavour akin to ours in the English. The Latin American country’s movies have garnered two Academy Awards and globally are popular entries at film festivals. Many of its stars are instantly recognisable to Spaniards and Latinos across the planet. One of these is Ricardo Darin. I’d become familiar with the quality of his work through the nation’s hit movies ‘The Secret in Their Eyes’ and ‘Wild Tales’. Paul Byrnes, the Age critic, describes him to a tee in saying that he ‘…has built his considerable stardom on a demeanour of disbelief. His face is permanently sceptical, as if he has heard it all before and assumes everyone is lying.’ He is regarded with the same affection we hold for Hugh Grant or Bill Nighy. So when ‘An Unexpected Love’ was advertised at the State with him as lead, it immediately caught my eye.

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The Argentine and the film didn’t let me down. ‘An Unexpected Love’ has been applauded at every stop for its realistic portrayal of life for new empty nesters. Once the offspring depart, what is there left? Darin is assisted in exploring this quandary by another luminous star of that nation’s industry, Mercedes Morán. And as luck would have it, as I sat awaiting for the start of the movie, up came a trailer for another forthcoming feature from the South American country,Florianópolis Dream’. In the trailer this appeared to be a humorous take on the notion of a couple of a certain age enjoying a holiday in a nearby foreign country. I noted that Ms Moran featured as a lead as well in this other offering, so I marked it down for a future expedition.

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An Unexpected Love’ sees this particular couple wave off their last remaining child to an overseas journey. Now they feel suddenly bereft. It’s not that they don’t love each other, but their relationship lost its zest and zing long ago; a zing they now crave for their new orb without children. But how to get retrieve it? Much like the couple/couples in ‘Me, You, Her’ and ‘Easy’, two Netflix offerings, they decide to see what else the world can gift hem before its all too late. They go their own way, breaking out into the singles scene as the movie gently records what occurs. Will they find what they’re seeking? Do they truly know what that is? As Byrnes points out in his review of this, the action is about as far away from the Hollywood comic book hero dross as one can get. But it is real. It’s what happens in life. There’s no men (or women) in tights to save the day here.

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In Florianópolis Dream’ the marriage for this couple has well and truly collapsed, but the family is still together – sort of. As Lucrecia ( Morán) and Pedro (Gustavo Garzón), both psychologists – a recipe for disaster in any case, embark on a journey across a border to a holiday in a rather seedy-looking southern Brazilian resort of the story’s title, it all goes belly-up. They break down en route; their accommodation on arrival is a shit hole. To the rescue comes a local, Marco, who seems as dodgy as all get out and whose relationships with the opposite sex are fluid, to say the least. He soon draws Lucrecia into his web. Pedro falls for one of Marco’s exes.

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To me, despite its success, it’s the lesser Argentine product to the others mentioned. Sure, it’s interesting to see the interaction between Portuguese speaking Brazilians and the Argentinians, but both leads are muted, neither especially garnering our sympathy. The story itself asks more questions than it answers and as the twosome drive back to Buenos Aires at the end, one is none the wiser. But then I suppose life doesn’t always resolve – that’s one of the reasons we go to the movies. ‘An Unexpected Love’ delivers on that score, but the other saw me leaving the State disappointed.

Trailer for ‘An Unexpected Love’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtzqJgECq7Y

Trailer for ‘Florianópolis Dream’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcS78zvqzmw

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