Bossa Nova

bossa nova

Bossa Nova
Made in: Brazil
Language: Portuguese, English, Spanish
Director: Bruno Barreto
Starring: Amy Irving, Antônio Fagundes, Alexandre Borges, Drica Moraes, Débora Bloch, Pedro Cardoso, Giovanna Antonelli, Sérgio Loroza, Alberto de Mendoza, Stephen Tobolowsky
Year: 2000

Synopsis: Mary Ann (Amy Irving) is a widowed English teacher living a quiet life in the nicer, non-drug infested part of Rio De Janeiro. One day, she finds herself being romantically pursued by two men. One is middle-aged Pedro Paul (Antônio Fagundes), an attorney who's separated from his wife, Tânia (Débora Bloch). And the other is Acácio (Alexandre Borges), a soccer superstar who's just been traded to Manchester United of England.

Pedro Paul is legally representing his father, Juan (Alberto de Mendoza), a tailor, through his third (or fourth?) divorce. Working as Juan's apprentice is, Roberto (Pedro Cardoso), who's also Pedro Paul's half-brother. Roberto has eyes for Sharon (Giovanna Antonelli), who's Pedro Paul's spunky intern.

At the same time, Mary Ann's best friend, Nadine (Drica Moraes), has fallen in love with an American man she met online named Gary. And after frequent internet chats, she decides to visit him in New York. Her travel agent is none other than Pedro Paul's wife, Tânia. All this seems pretty convoluted but it really isn't. And in the end, all the intersecting stories more or less find a conclusion.

The Good: Bossa Nova certainly looks beautiful, and the soundtrack is very nice. The beauty of Rio De Janeiro is captured, and every scene pretty much looks like a postcard. The characters are likeable, and Amy Irving (who comes across as the poor man's Michelle Pfeiffer), does a good job as an independent, romantically cautious protagonist.

Director Bruno Barreto keeps the story from becoming confusing, and keeps the lighthearted feel of this chick flick consistent throughout.

The Bad: However, Bossa Nova is nothing spectacular, which is disappointing given the director's skill. Bruno Barreto has given us edgier dramas, such as Four Days in September. And his previous comedies, such as Romeo and Juliet get Married, have been pretty solid.

But this one is pretty bland, and moves a little too slowly. It clearly meets the criteria for being a chick flick, but at one point it got so boring that I even started checking my e-mail. None of the actors showed any fire, and it was a disappointing waste of the talented Pedro Cardoso. The ending is unsatisfying, and Mary Ann's character arc just sort of seems tacked on.

Who would like this movie: Although much of it is in Portuguese, you won't have to be a fan of foreign films in order to understand Bossa Nova. The subject matter is accessible to anyone who's seen a chick flick, and it seems geared towards more mature audiences.

But again, the whole movie's just too bland and doesn't have much passion. The comedy is amusing at times, but there aren't any laugh-out-loud moments. Overall, it came across as a Saturday afternoon movie, only with nicer cinematography.

(2 and 1/2 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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