Son Of The Bride

Son Of The Bride

****1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

A funny film that actually has something to say other than, "Isn't this hilarious", is a rare commodity these days. The Son Of The Bride's humour is born out of an engaging storyline, which also isn't embarrassed to make you reach for the tissues. This movie is to be cherished.

Rafael Belvedere (Ricardo Darin) is a fortysomething businessman. He runs the family restaurant, passed down to him from his father Nino (Hector Alterio), but finds himself spending every waking minute on his mobile phone, trying to hold things together. He is divorced and barely has time for his one-day-a-week daughter, scared of commitment to his new love Nati (Gimena Nóbile) and hasn't visited his mother Norma (Norma Aleandro), who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, for a year.

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He is so mired in a midlife crisis that he can't see a way to please everyone - particularly his mother - until a heart attack pulls him up short and his stay in intensive care, rediscovery of a childhood friendship and his father's seemingly bizarre desire to remarry his mother and give her the church wedding she had always wanted, but he had denied her, causes him to take a closer look at his priorities.

All of this sounds plot heavy and perhaps that's right, but it's handled with the lightest of touches. The film is a slow-burner, with writer/director Juan Jose Campanella giving you time to get to know the characters, so that when their trials and tribulations arrive, you are carried along with them.

The issue of Alzheimer's is dealt with in a sensitive and delicate manner, which doesn't overplay the pity. Yes, Norma is a shadow of the spirit she once was, but she also provides much of the humour in the film, swearing inappropriately to good comic effect, even in the soberest of scenes, or providing a poignancy which keeps the crazier moments of comedy at bay.

The humour and poignancy come in equal measure, with the relationship between Nino and Norma so tangible, you can almost reach out and touch it. Aleandro and Alterio have an onscreen chemistry that sizzles and, happily, Campanella isn't scared to address the subject of "older love". Darin, too, is on fine form, as a man caught in the web of life, who can't see the wood for the trees, and Nóbile has the sought-after ability to look good and act well, which will doubtless see her popping up again regularly after this.

The plot slows a little towards the middle, with the shenanigans between Rafael and his rediscovered pal Juan Carlos (Eduardo Blanco) adding little. But this is a small gripe, as, by this point, the actors are so watchable that two hours seems shorter.

The Son Of The Bride was Oscar-nominated and it's easy to see why. This is one wedding you won't want to miss.

Remember to stay right through the credits for the final punchline.

Reviewed on: 20 Aug 2002
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Son Of The Bride packshot
Fortysomething businessman discovers the value of family over success.
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Read more Son Of The Bride reviews:

Angus Wolfe Murray ****1/2

Director: Juan José Campanella

Writer: Fernando Castets, Juan Jose Campanella

Starring: Ricardo Darin, Hector Alterio, Norma Aleandro, Eduardo Blanco, Natalia Verbeke, Gimena Nóbile, David Masajnik, Claudia Fontán, Atilio Pozzobón, Salo Pasik

Year: 2001

Runtime: 122 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Argentina/Spain

Festivals:

EIFF 2002

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