STUDIO: Patagonik Film Group
MSRP: $15.00
RUNNING TIME: 123 minutes
• English, Portuguese, and Spanish Subtitles
• Scene selection
• TV Spot
• Original Theatrical trailer
• Trailers for other films
• Public Opinion
• Notes
• Art Gallery

The Pitch

The title translates to Son of the Bride, which is not to be confused with Sons of Brad, that film about Whitford’s Kids.

The Humans

Ricardo Darin. Hector Alterio. Norma Aleandro.

The Nutshell

Ricardo Darin is a fine actor, Juan José Campanella can direct like nobody’s business, and this is an Oscar-nominated film, but you’ve never heard of them or it. Neither had I. After seeing it, however, I can tell you that this movie is a damn fine cup of coffee, and by cup of coffee I mean entry point into the cinema of Sr. Campanella and of his homeland Argentina in general.

The secret to a five-star nursing home? Ghost Ian Malcolm in every hall.

The Lowdown

Husband-and-wife team Nino (Alterio) and Norma (Aleandro) Belvedere started a restaurant and it was good times. He was the cook, she was the hostess who brought customers to their tables, smiles to their faces, and probably them to the restaurant in the first place. Basically, Norma was super hawt, legend has it, but then she got old and Alzheimery and Nino stopped doing much more than visiting her daily at the nursing home.

Now their son Rafael (Darin) runs the place, and his situation is strikingly similar to ours – trying to lose the minimum in a moribund economy – with a little season one Fisher family mixed in – the representative from the local evillarge corporation shows up from time to time with offers to buy, offers which it seems Rafael should rationally accept. He’s a stressed, divorced, angry smoker who needs money and time to take care of his kid, and who would have lots of both if he got rid of the business which is killing him, to the point of giving him heart attack around the end of the first act.

BREAKING NEWS: Hollywood, having exhausted every other possible remake, commissions Jodorowsky’s Hope Floats.

Spoiler alert: Rafael lives, and chooses, in fact, not to sell the place, whereupon he learns un poquito about la familia. (and… my Spanish vocabulario is depleted.) But that happens in every film like this. The question is, is it done well?

It is, and here’s why: Nino and Rafael are equal protagonists, and their stories mirror and comment on each other, eventually forming a fuller arc than either could have had on his own. (Each man has one sweetheart and one child, they share the restaurant, etc., but the payoff is worth the contrivances.)  Nino’s biggest regret is never having married Norma in a church – she always wished for the lavish old-fashioned ceremony, but he had his principles, including a vague disdain for organized religion. His second biggest regret is never taking that trip to Europe he had always been planning, and Rafael tells him he should do that with his money, seeing as how Norma’s disease would prevent her from remembering the wedding, anyway. (Going only from what we see early in the film, it’d probably prevent her from even noticing it. She’d be just as likely to ignore Nino, ask who he was, or throw at him some wholly inaccurate ethnic slur, than marry him when the time came.)

Then there are Rafael’s troubles, which are many. He’s got an ex-wife, a daughter, a new girlfriend who tries to help but doesn’t quite understand all the backstory, and a friend from the past who shows up and is really weird.

“Do not eat! You’ll want to preserve this cake, for it reliably points toward Miguel Ferrer.”

And that’s only the first third of the movie. Films like this can descend into soap opera twists and car-crash coincidences to keep the plot going, but Son of the Bride never does. The dual protagonist structure really helps, as does the rest of the fine script, about which my only complaint is a little too much obvious exposition in the opening scenes. Surely, if you want to show that Rafael is a busy divorcé, there’s a more original way than to have him say that while carrying a cell phone and being mean to minions. For the first few scenes he’s basically an early 00’s douchey Baxter mixed with Liar Liar Jim Carrey. Luckily, that goes away and is followed by no more major missteps on the movie’s part. The solid story plus the great acting, and what for most of us is an underseen setting, make this a satisfying and easily recommendable picture.

Special thanks: This film was furnished to me all the way from Argentina by message board luminary and overall guy-with-huge-arms Tati.

My friend, I trust you carry the… how you say… Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. It would be a day of sadness should you lack the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

The Package

This is one of those deceptive discs with a long list of features, but where most of them are tiny and useless. Except, of course, for the English subtitles, which are generally quite good. I can’t tell whether they’re accurate, but nothing obviously simplified or inappropriate jumped at me. Returning to my previous complaint, though (and possibly canceling it out), I wouldn’t be surprised if the inelegant on-the-noseness of the early exposition could be blamed on translation.

8.3 out of 10