Tropic Sprockets / Adios, Buenos Aires

By Ian Brockway

German Kral (Our Last Tango) delivers an exceedingly light but pleasing comedy in “Adios, Buenos Aires.” The film is fluffy and somewhat contrived but boasts solid performances by the main leads Diego Cremonesi and Marina Bellati.

It is November 2001 in Argentina. Julio (Cremonesi) plays the accordion with a Buenos Aires band part-time. Eager to immigrate to Germany to satisfy his irritable daughter Paula (Violeta Narvay), Julio attempts to rent a car. Just as he is coasting down the highway, Julio crashes into Mariella (Bellati) who is vulgar and irate. Julio is stupefied. Mariella can’t pay insurance but wants to work out a deal. A tense chemistry ensues in the manner of Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. The two begin to trade sarcasms.

Bellati has a charged verve and fire while Cremonesi possesses a melancholic charm, reminiscent of an actor during the 1940s and 50s. Julio takes refuge in his friends and music as an escape from the stresses and strains of domestic life, especially in dealing with his moody teenage daughter.

Each afternoon, Julio is left with his existential meditations, but music is his lifeline. He becomes more and more enchanted by Mariella and her intelligent but silent young son.

Mariella does not want Julio to leave, but Argentina is in a state of political anxiety. The banks have shut down. Julio knows he must get out by any means necessary. When a riot occurs, a lovable band member is killed. Julio is devastated.

Bolstered by strong performances, the film makes the romantic clichés palatable along with vibrant tangos and breathtaking landscape shots of a sparkling and bejeweled Buenos Aires. The music alone is almost enough to make its push me/pull you pasodobles, and Hallmark conventions into trifling things.

The first act is comical and buoyant, while the second is slightly downbeat and somewhat loses momentum. That being said the film has a definitive warmth if not a vital spirit.

This is a nostalgic throwback to the bouncy comedies of the 1940s accented with sweeping cinematography and visuals.

The sentimental dénouement as charmed as it is with the characters saturated in frivolity, feels like a telenovela, and begs for a more surprising end, given the political turmoil of Argentina under duress and panic. Still, those who enjoy their economic discontent handled with a Disney breeze will be well entertained.

Write Ian at [email protected]

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