Son of the Bride
(El Hijo de la Novia)

Son of the Bride (El Hijo de la Novia)
Made in: Argentina
Language: Spanish
Director: Juan Jose Campanella
Starring: Ricardo Darin, Hector Alterio, Norma Aleandro, Natalia Verbeke, Eduardo Blanco
Year 2001:

Synopsis: Rafael Belvedere (Ricardo Darin) is an overworked, middle-aged restauranteur trying to endure tough economic times in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In addition to his high-stress job, he's struggling to make time for his daughter, girlfriend, and is contending with his ex-wife.

He considers selling the restaurant, but is reluctant seeing that it was passed down to him from his father, Nino (Hector Alterio) and mother Norma (Norma Aleandro). Norma suffers from Alzheimer's disease, and barely recognizes Nino and Rafael when they visit.

Things come to a head when Nino reveals to Rafael that he and Rafael's mother never actually had a proper catholic wedding. In his old age, Nino decides to use most of the money he's saved to arrange a ceremony. And amidst all this, Rafael's childhood friend, Juan Carlos (Eduardo Blanco), pops back into town to reconnect.

After suffering form a sudden heart attack, Rafael slowly finds his perspectives on life, aging, love, and relationships evolving in ways he couldn't before imagine.

The Good: Son of the Bride covers a lot of ground. Director Juan Jose Campanella takes on a number of issues about aging, love, divorce, friendship, and marriage. And I must say that all the topics are well explored. Nothing about the film feels incomplete, and it could have very easily went in way too many directions.

The cast is superb. Ricardo Darin is amazing once again, slipping so easily into his role. It's certainly a treat to see him onscreen with the renown Hector Alterio.

There are several genuinely moving scenes, and plenty of good humor. This usually happens during several monologues that Ricardo Darin gives at various parts in the film. Campanella went on to direct the Oscar winning The Secret in their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos), which is also superb. 

The Bad: The beginning is a little slow, and doesn't make a positive impact right away. Also, the humor is a little hit-or-miss during the first half.

Who would like this film: Son of the Bride is geared more towards people who are at least in their late 30s and older. Although anyone in the world can pretty much follow the story, those who have had more life experience (or have been bitten by life) will find more meaning in the film's themes. 

It's a slow, and often emotionally heavy film that's full of substantive drama and depth. I really wish I could write more, but am afraid I'd give too much away. For those interested in learning Spanish, it'd be good to familiarize yourselves with Argentinean slang and portions of the lunfardo dialect.

(3 and 1/2 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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