Empty Nest
(El Nido Vacío)

foreign films

Empty Nest (El Nido Vacío)
Made in: Argentina
Language: Spanish
Director: Daniel Burman
Starring: Oscar Martínez, Cecilia Roth, Arturo Goetz, Eugenia Capizzano, Jean-Pierre Noher, Inés Efron, Ron Richter
Year: 2008

Synopsis: Leonardo (Oscar Martínez) and his wife Martha (Cecilia Roth) are a middle-aged couple living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Leonardo is a writer struggling with inspiration, while Martha was once a brilliant university student who abandoned her studies to take care of her family.

With all the children grown and living on their own, the two find themselves confronting marital issues that have been pushed aside while they've been busy with parenthood.

Martha, the social butterfly, decides to go back to school and surrounds herself with people. And Leonardo, while trying to explore different things with his creativity, becomes fascinated with Violeta (Eugenia Capizzano), a younger woman who happens to be his dentist.

All the while, Leonardo, after several conversations with a sociologist, begins questioning aspects of his mental state as he begins mistaking his deepest fantasies and desires for actual memories.

The Good: Empty Nest, like most foreign films I've encountered so far, is very well acted. Oscar Martínez and Cecilia Roth are great character actors, and have the chemistry to come across very convincingly as a middle-aged couple with communication problems. The element of magical realism gives the film a sense of originality within the familiar theme of love and mid-life crisis.

The humor is well done, and director Daniel Burman creates a pretty intimate and heartfelt story overall.

The Bad: Although Empty Nest doesn't descend into a cynical, depressing study of "middle class hell" (to Burman's credit), which is what I almost expected after the opening scene. Yet it doesn't quite have enough "bite." Leonardo and Martha are certainly characters that we care about, but they're never in enough emotional "danger" to make us fear that their long-running relationship might come to a tragic end.

Who would like this movie: Empty Nest is for you if you like foreign films, and dramas about middle age. It's a mature story, and has plenty of clever moments laced with humor and authentic emotion. Although intelligent and respectable, it never gives off enough energy and dynamism to make it extremely memorable.

(2 and 1/2 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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