I went to the Argentine film festival here a few weeks ago and saw two movies (unfortunately, one of them wasn’t the Argentine entry in the foreign film Oscar category because that one was sold out—I knew I should have bought my ticket a week earlier). However, the two I saw passed the time well enough. Both are love stories, one a comedy, one more of a dramedy.
Love in Transit is two stories about two sets of lovers. The two stories are dramatized at the same time, though the characters don’t interact between the two plotlines. A Spaniard comes to Buenos Aires because his girlfriend who went to visit never came back (don’t you hate when that happens). At the airport, he meets an waitress because she looks like his girlfriend from the back, but she isn’t. When he gets to his girlfriend’s apartment, he finds out she has apparently left the country (don’t you really hate when that happens). He then meets the waitress and they start an affair. Meanwhile, a writer meets a woman at a party and they start an affair. When she suddenly decides to leave the country, he follows her. Up to about half way through, this is a not uninteresting, but not particularly exciting and fairly run of the mill love story (screenplay by Roberto Montini and director Lucas Blanco). Then one realizes that in actuality, both stories, though happening at the same time on screen, in real time are not. The waitress is the writer’s girlfriend and the woman the writer follows after is the Spaniard’s girlfriend he came to town to see. The writer/girlfriend story takes place before the Spaniard/waitress one and the two sets of lovers just barely miss each other at the airport. Suddenly the story becomes far more interesting and more exciting and the structure creates a sort of poignancy that wasn’t there before. In the end, though entertaining enough, it is more clever than anything else. But it does work the tear ducts a bit.
Music On Hold is what is called a meet cute love story, but it’s doubtful that a couple has ever met more cute than they do here. Stay with me on this one. A composer of music for films is having trouble coming up with a tune and may lose his latest gig if he doesn’t. He calls his bank about an appointment regarding his mortgage and is passed from hold to hold, hearing a different musical composition each time until he hears some music that gives him the perfect tune for the film. Then the phone is answered by a bank executive. The bank executive is a nine month pregnant woman whose boyfriend fled the country when she got with child. She has told her mother (played by the wonderful Norma Alleandro) that the boyfriend is still with her. The mother lives in Spain, so no problem, until she suddenly shows up in town. The composer, who has forgotten how his tune goes, comes by and gets the executive to let him use her phone to run down tunes—just as the mother arrives. So of course the executive says that the musician is her boyfriend and the musician goes along with it in trade for the executive’s help in tracking down the tune. Hilarity and a happy ending ensue. Did you get all that? It sounds ridiculous and a bit too much, which may be why it’s so enjoyable; it’s so unapologetically and energetically manipulative. The screenplay by Julieta Steinberg and Patrico Vega is entertaining and moves at a good pace. There are times when it goes perhaps a bit too far (one section where the computer system with the hold music is taken in for repair and the musician and executive break in to get to it seems a bit too much) and the subplot where the executive’s gynecologist is also the musician’s ex-wife isn’t milked for all the laughs it could be. But in the end, this was a perfectly acceptable evening in the theater and seems ready made for an American remake (Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts anyone?).