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Stolen Moments

An offbeat Latin American homage to the classic romantic Hollywood pics of the 1940s, "Stolen Moments" has its moments but there aren't enough of them to save this rather muddled effort. Pic is most notable for a captivating perf by Assumpta Serna, but this tale of a bored young housewife in 1947 Patagonia is not going to steal much B.O. thunder.

With:
Letty - Assumpta Serna Tomas - Jorge Rivera Lopez Gunther - Francois-Eric Gendron Miguel - Martin Carpan Yvonne - Betiana Blum

An offbeat Latin American homage to the classic romantic Hollywood pics of the 1940s, “Stolen Moments” has its moments but there aren’t enough of them to save this rather muddled effort. Pic is most notable for a luminous, captivating perf by Assumpta Serna, but this tale of a bored young housewife in 1947 Patagonia is not going to steal much B.O. thunder beyond the borders of its home territory.

Letty (Serna) is married to a much older man, Tomas (Jorge Rivera Lopez), the local doctor in a seaside town in rural Argentina. She is clearly frustrated by their mundane small-town existence and seeks refuge at the local cinema, where she spends as much time as possible watching one American film after another. She has a little cottage by the sea where she keeps her Hollywood memorabilia, and she often gravitates there while her hubby is out working.Then one day an attractive, mysterious stranger, Gunther (Francois-Eric Gendron), appears and, fairly improbably, tells her he’s been shipwrecked. Given that he’s German and it’s shortly after World War II, Letty and most everyone else in the town figure he must be some kind of Nazi spy on the run. If anything, Letty perpetuates this myth, in a perverse attempt to turn her own life into something straight out of the movies she loves so much. She pretends she has secrets she is keeping from Gunther, and her fantasies eventually rouse the suspicion of both the police and her husband. The drama ends badly for all concerned.

Mildly intriguing tale neatly captures a particular time and place in Argentine history. But the thin story will not be enough to hold most audiences all the way through. Final section, when Letty’s dream world comes crashing down, lacks the requisite dramatic force to make a real impact.

Serna, as usual, is never less than a pleasure to watch, and she lends no small amount of poignancy to the role of the lonely, sad dreamer Letty. Lopez is also strong as her loving but dull husband. Baby Lopez Furst’s score does a good job of mimicking the wildly over-dramatic music of Hollywood pics of the era, and Felix Monti’s lensing makes excellent use of the stark landscapes of the desolate Patagonian region of Argentina.

Stolen Moments

Argentina

Production: An Oscar Barney Finn Producciones/SATV Asociacion Argentina de Television production, with the participation of the Instituto Nacional de Cinematografia Y Artes Audiovisuales. (International sales: Oscar Barney Finn Producciones, Buenos Aires.) Produced by Oscar Barney Finn. Executive producer, Luis Fernandez. Directed by Oscar Barney Finn. Screenplay, Antonio Larreta, Finn.

Crew: Camera (color), Felix Monti; editor, Julio Di Risio; music, Baby Lopez Furst; art direction, Maria Julia Bertotto; sound, Jorge Stravropoulos. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival, Sept. 11, 1997. Running time: 100 MIN.

With: Letty - Assumpta Serna Tomas - Jorge Rivera Lopez Gunther - Francois-Eric Gendron Miguel - Martin Carpan Yvonne - Betiana BlumWith: Julia Von Grolman, Elena Tasisto, Roberto Carnaghi, Pepe Soriano, Arturo Maly, Juan Manuel Tenuta.

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