Year:  2018

Director:  Juan Vera

Rated:  M

Release:  July 4, 2019

Distributor: Palace Films

Running time: 129 minutes

Worth: $15.00
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Mercedes Moran, Ricardo Darin

…aimed at people who have been around a bit, who will laugh with recognition at some of the unavoidable truisms associated with starting to date again.

Oscar Wilde famously said that, “experience is the name we give to our mistakes”. He was alluding to the idea that when we go wrong, we put it down to experience, and, that we learn most, if at all, from those mistakes. How much are these things true of love and marriage?

This new film from Argentina explores this fertile territory. To call the film a romcom seems to bring with it all the problems of that tarnished genre. That description alone is enough to send some people running in the other direction.

An Unexpected Love is a first feature as a director from long term Argentinian producer Juan Vera. He is on record as saying that he wanted to make a romcom from the position of “optimistic scepticism”, and this is a nice summation of the dual values of the lead characters. It is an attractive stance too, because the film does not want to simply bet everything on the idea that love solves everything, or that it will last forever and always be the same as the first day. Equally, that doesn’t mean that it is only a passing fever, or that a love that does not last was not worth experiencing. There are some good themes here.

The film has been a big hit in its native Argentina largely because of the pairing of two of that country’s most talented and enduring actors. The female lead, Ana, is played with great vivacity by Mercedes Moran. Her partner, Marcos, is played by Ricardo Darin (who is well known to international arthouse audiences (see, for example, his recent turn in Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows)).

Darin is one of those actors you can’t take your eyes off, but it is not always easy to analyse that magnetic quality. In some ways he has the less attractive role in the comedy, as he is relatively passive. He vaguely yearns for something (perhaps love) that will nudge him from his current stasis and give him the sense of vertigo we get when we take risks. Ana, by contrast, has more fun actively exploring her sexuality and her freedom in a series of comic and sensual encounters that enliven the film.

This will appeal most to the middle-aged audience. It is squarely aimed at people who have been around a bit, who will laugh with recognition at some of the unavoidable truisms associated with starting to date again.

If the film has a fault, it is perhaps too insistent on getting to the absolute truth about love and attraction. Too many scenes slide into semi-serious debates about these issues, when in reality it is often a matter of just doing things and not expecting to understand why. (The Spanish title – El Amor Menos Pensado (‘The Less Thought Love’) – incidentally gets this sense much better than the English one.) It is not the unexpectedness that matters so much as not overthinking things. Maybe that is the point, in life you can’t be young and foolish and old and wise in exactly equal measure. Love is a mystery and not a perfectible formula.


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