Reviewer's Rating 5 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
Son of the Bride (El Hijo de la Novia) (2003)
15

Never trust any review that tells you a film will make you laugh and cry. Except this one.

"Son of the Bride" is a beguiling Argentine comedy-drama that deserves to be seen before Hollywood takes its delicate flavours and smothers it with layers of sentiment (a remake is already in the works).

The story centres around Rafael Belvedere (Ricardo Darín, last seen in the equally excellent "Nine Queens"), a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

His restaurant business is suffering from the collapse of the local economy. He's estranged from his young daughter, Vicky (Gimena Nóbile). And his girlfriend (Natalia Verbeke) seems to have other things on her mind.

Most depressing of all, his mother has Alzheimer's and he's been avoiding her for a year. If his luck picks up, he'll be the perfect subject for a country'n'western song. Unfortunately, it's about to get worse...

What makes Juan José Campanella's movie such a triumph is its ability to navigate the fine line between comedy and tragedy.

His depiction of Alzheimer's ("This s***** disease", as one of the characters aptly puts it) is believable without being tasteless or manipulative.

And Darín's central character - easily read as a metaphor for the state of a nation teetering on the brink - manages to be that most difficult of things, a sympathetic asshole.

Eduardo Blanco provides hilarious comedy support as Juan Carlos, a childhood friend of Rafael's, while the most touching scenes come from two veterans - Héctor Alterio and Norma Aleandro, as Rafi's parents.

"I don't watch Argentine movies," Rafael says early in the film. Make sure you do, otherwise you'll be missing one of the finest movies of the year. Oh, and a word of warning - the film's running gag is only explained during the end credits.

In Spanish with English subtitles.

End Credits

Director: Juan José Campanella

Writer: Juan José Campanella, Fernando Castets

Stars: Ricardo Darín, Héctor Alterio, Norma Aleandro, Eduardo Blanco, Natalia Verbeke, Gimena Nóbile

Genre: Comedy, Drama, World Cinema

Length: 125 minutes

Cinema: 23 May 2003

Country: Argentina

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