1996, NR, 103 min. Directed by Eduardo Mignogna. Starring Norma Aleandro, Federico Luppi, Cecilia Rossetto, Jorge Luz.
REVIEWED By Russell Smith, Fri., Oct. 30, 1998
Like that tube of Monistat 3 in the medicine cabinet, the possibility of hot and sexy romance in one's dotage is reassuring, but how much do we really want to think about the circumstances in which it'll be needed? That, in a nutshell, is the potential problem facing this tender-hearted, sweetly humorous 1996 Argentine film about love between sophisticated sexagenarians in modern Buenos Aires. As a seemingly mismatched pair brought together by an unattached Jewish woman's newspaper ad (she wants him to pose as her Jewish boyfriend while her Orthodox brother is visiting), longtime Latin-American stars Aleandro and Luppi are a constant joy to watch. Eloquently portraying both the vulnerability of old age and a stubborn refusal to let these fears quell their appetite for life, they prove once more that erotic sizzle is more than just chemical call-and-response between Soloflex-buffed young hardbodies. And yet, judging from the mildly disappointing turnouts for recent November-December romantic fare such as That Old Feeling and Out to Sea, there's some doubt about how comfortable Americans really are with images of old folks as fully functional sexual entities. It'd be a shame, though, if a movie as involving, well-acted, and beautifully shot failed to achieve the strong arthouse response it deserves. Not only do Luppi (Men With Guns, Cronos) and Aleana present images of mature ardor that compare favorably with the late-career work of Mastroianni and Loren, they also impressively overcome certain Hollywood-like contrivances of plot and dialogue the latter two actors seldom had to contend with. It's a tribute to these stars that, even given the trite situation of the love-shy odd couple gradually facing the inevitable, every halting step they take toward each other feels like a mini-triumph of love's power over the schoolmarmish intellect. They portray with touching specificity what it's like to crave total surrender to love even after long years of experience have proven the foolhardiness of such blind leaps. Not even the blatantly market-tested ending (a malady that seems to be spreading worldwide like Hong Kong flu) detracts from the pleasure of this admirable, eminently watchable date flick. Well worth the price of admission, whether or not you qualify for the senior discount.