Rosalia Julieta Ortega
Rosalia Julieta OrtegaSantiago Antonio Birabent Susana Monica Galan Don Francisco Paco M Rosalia’s Mother Ana Maria Picchio Rosalia’s Father Hector Alterio Hada Guadalupe Subiela Not since Tinker Bell first got clapped back to consciousness has there been such a run on fairy lore, which seems to be the mythic totem du jour (following angel-mania a couple years back). In contrast to recent family-oriented pics, Eliseo Subiela’s latest mines that same whimsical theme for grownups, much as his prior hits “Man Facing Southeast” and “Dark Side of the Heart” deployed fantasy elements to explore contemporary spiritual life. Lacking those works’ deeper resonance, however, the sweet-tempered “Little Miracles” may be a bit soft to travel as far on international circuits. His protagonist this time may think she’s a “fairy godmother,” but she’s more like Cinderella. Rosalia (Julieta Ortega) lives simply in Buenos Aires, working as a cashier at a supermarket where customers are routinely stumped by her impromptu theological queries. She also volunteers as a reader/companion for two blind people, one a middle-aged woman (Monica Galan) studying for law exams, another a wealthy, depressive older man (Paco M). Rosalia’s fairyhood may be delusional. Yet some supernatural gifts appear quite real – she uses telekinesis to help her two sightless friends and needy-looking strangers, as well as to pull an occasional mild prank. But such selflessness hasn’t done her own life much good. It certainly hasn’t worked any wonders on her bitter, ungiving mother, or on the father who abandoned them both some years ago. In b&w dream sequences, Rosalia constantly sees herself – often with a babe in arms – being rescued from peril by another, fully-winged fairy spirit. What she’s really waiting for, however, is a Prince Charming’s arrival. Unbeknownst to her, handsome if nebbishy young physicist Santiago (Antonio Birabent) keeps track of her bus-stop comings and goings via a videocam linkup to his home computer. This potentially creepy pastime is played instead as a slow path to an eventual happily-ever-after meeting between the two lonely souls. Pic coasts on wry humor and loving close-ups of Ortega’s petite, delicate beauty for an agreeable hour or so, weaving a charming if slight spell. It bogs down, however, once Hector Alterio turns up as the long-absent father. Still consumed by insecure self-interest, he’s now considering leaving a second wife; the talky reunion evokes little drama or sympathy. It’s also rather a mistake to keep Rosalia’s romantic interest at modem-length distance until the final fadeout. A couple of scenes of Santiago with his expressive basset hound “Lulu” are cute; then, like much here, they develop the Cutes. There’s no doubting writer-helmer Subiela’s assurance. But as painless a diversion as “Little Miracles” is, its insights into modern urban loneliness and yearning cut less deep than in prior efforts. Introduction of three modish young women whom Rosalia presumes are fellow fairies – and who give her a hair/wardrobe makeover – is typical in that it beguiles at first, then takes narrative nowhere in particular. In the end pic simply blows away amid tinkling bells, leaving a pleasant but twee aftertaste. Perfs are all appealing enough given limited character definition; tech package is expectedly handsome and smooth.
(FANTASY COMEDY-DRAMA -- ARGENTINE -- COLOR/B&W)
A Spanish Television Services presentation of a Promisa S.A. production with the participation of INCAA. Produced by Omar Romaya, Eliseo Subiela. Executive producer, Sabina Sigler. Directed, written by Eliseo Subiela.
Camera (color/b&w), Daniel Rodriguez Maseda; editor, Marcela Saenz; music, Osvaldo Montes; production designer, Margarita Jusid, Ruben Greco; sound, Carlos Abate; assistant director, Eduardo Ripari. Reviewed at San Francisco Film Festival, April 28, 1998. (Also in Miami Film Festival.) Running time: 102 MIN.