Argentina's official bid for the 2001 Best Foreign Language Oscar is a sensitive and expertly acted crowd-pleaser that isn't above a little broad comedy and a few unabashedly sentimental tears. As Argentina veers from one economic crisis to another, 42-year-old Buenos Aires restaurateur Rafael Belvedere (Ricardo Darín) finds it hard to keep afloat the restaurant he inherited from his parents, Nino (Héctor Alterio) and Nora (Norma Aleandro). His cell phone rings constantly, and if it isn't a supplier chasing down an old bill, it's Rafael's ex-wife, Sandra (Claudia Fontán), reminding him to pick up their daughter, Vicky (Gimena Nóbile), for the weekend. Rafael is stressed out, tired of taking care of everyone around him, and physically exhausted. One night, while gorging on Nino's famous tiramisu, it all catches up with him: Rafael has a heart attack. He survives, but the experience gives him a new outlook on the way he wants to spend the rest of his life. He tells his much-younger girlfriend, Nati (Natalia Verbeke), that his sole dream is to drop out. He could sell the restaurant to that Italian corporation who's been sniffing around his door, leave all the pressures and responsibilities of life behind in Buenos Aires and head off to Mexico, maybe raise horses or something. Nino, meanwhile, has also reached a crossroads in his life, but unlike his son, Nino embraces his cares with a joy Rafael can't fathom; for Nino, one's responsibilities are the warp and weave of life. Rather than spend his savings on the trip to Italy of which he's always dreamed, Nino decides to renew his vows with Norma, who now suffers from Alzheimer's and lives in a nursing home, giving his rapidly deteriorating wife the big church wedding she always wanted but never had. Director Juan José Campanella and co-writer Fernando Castets skillfully allow the two storylines to develop then converge in a way that never feels contrived. Credit is also due to the uniformly excellent cast, most of whom have rarely been seen outside of South American productions. Eduardo Blanco is particularly good as Juan Carlos, Rafael's childhood friend who, after a 20-year absence, makes a surprising reappearance; Blanco is an expert comic with the face and mannerisms of an Argentine Robert Benigni.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 2002
- Rating: R
- Review: Argentina's official bid for the 2001 Best Foreign Language Oscar is a sensitive and expertly acted crowd-pleaser that isn't above a little broad comedy and a few unabashedly sentimental tears. As Argentina veers from one economic crisis to another, 42-yea… (more)