The hand-held camera work throughout Argentinian writer-director Daniel Burman's second feature an otherwise unpretentious comedy is enough to make THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT look as though it were directed by Michael Snow. If you have the stomach — or the Dramamine — it's a touching, humorous take on Jewish life in contemporary Argentina, and a grown man who's still unable to forgive the father who abandoned his family shortly after his son was born. A frustrated architect well into his thirties, Ariel (Daniel Hendler) helps his mother, Sonia (Adriana Aizemberg), run Elias' Creations, the small lingerie shop in a Buenos Aires galleria that still bears his father's name. Elias (Jorge D'Elia), however, hasn't set foot in the store since Ariel was a baby; shortly after his son was circumcised, Elias emigrated to Israel to join a kibbutz and help establish a Jewish homeland, leaving Sonia, Ariel, and Ariel's older brother, Joseph (Sergio Boris), to fend for themselves. Elias also left behind his mother-in-law (Rosita Londner), a Polish refugee who fled to South America to escape the Nazis and is now horrified that Ariel hopes to find a new life in Poland, which she understandably associates with virulent anti-Semitism. Sonia, meanwhile, is horrified that instead of reuniting with his pretty ex-girlfriend, Estela (Melina Petriella), Ariel is wasting his time with Rita (Silvina Bosco), the trampy blonde who runs the Internet cafe across the way with a man old enough to be her father, but who might in fact be her lover. Grandma finally relents and hands over the family documents Ariel needs, but just as his departure is looking like a done deal, the unforeseeable happens: Elias returns to Buenos Aires. Burman's film isn't officially a Dogme 95 production or even consciously attempting to emulate one, but his gentle comedy is filled with the kind of naturalistic camera work and artful accidents that distinguish the no-nonsense Danish movement. The result is a textbook example of the way obtrusive style can overwhelm a simple story: All those unnecessary and stomach-churning swish pans and jump cuts threaten to overwhelm Burman's more subtle points about life in the wake of Argentina's economic collapse. The film is at its best when the camera stays put and the fine cast — Hendler and Aizemberg have the mother-son dynamic down cold — are allowed to do what they do so well and with minimum fuss.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: NR
- Review: The hand-held camera work throughout Argentinian writer-director Daniel Burman's second feature an otherwise unpretentious comedy is enough to make THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT look as though it were directed by Michael Snow. If you have the stomach — or the D… (more)