"Bombon -- El Perro" revels in the sentimentality inherent in the tale of a lonely middle-aged Average Joe whose life is briefly enlivened by adventures with a large white dog. Helmer Carlos Sorin's follow-up to the beguiling "Minimal Stories" is a natural crowd-pleaser that will play well in fests, arthouses and in ancillary.

Though it won’t win any awards for emotional subtlety, “Bombon — El Perro” revels in the sentimentality inherent in the tale of a lonely middle-aged Average Joe whose life is briefly enlivened by adventures with a large white dog. Overlooked in the San Sebastian fest competish but feted by the Fipresci jury there and snapped up by a half-dozen distribs for regional release following late-in-the-fest Toronto screenings, helmer Carlos Sorin’s follow-up to the beguiling “Minimal Stories” is a natural crowd-pleaser that will play well in fests, arthouses and in ancillary.

A quiet 52-year-old mechanic laid off after two decades from one of the handful of filling stations serving his corner of the windswept Patagonian steppes, Juan (Juan Villegas) gets by selling knives with lovingly crafted handles. When a good deed results in the gift of a striking and sizeable Dogo Argentino show dog, Bombon (Gregorio), Juan falls in with burly and excitable canine show vet Walter (Walter Donado).

A period of training results in a show win, though their dreams of big money are dashed when Bombon’s stud services prove less than effective. Though supported briefly by singer Susana (Rosa Valsecchi), Juan finds himself alone once again, but is relieved to learn that both he and Bombon have something left in the tank.

The simple dignity of the largely non-pro cast and pic’s calculated yet effortless deadpan demeanor are a winning combination. Sorin wisely builds pic’s pace and mood around Villegas’ natural appeal and the touching interplay between Juan and the photogenic mastiff.

Tech credits are discreetly pro, marred only by the plaintively cloying music of Sorin’s son Nicolas, which matches the film’s emotional temperature but wears out its welcome long before the fade.

Bombon -- El Perro

Argentina

Production

A 20th Century Fox Argentina release (in Argentina) of a Guacamole Films, OK Films production (Argentina), in association with Wanda Vision (Spain), Chemo-Romikin. (International sales: Bavaria Film Intl., Geiselgasteig, Germany.) Produced by Oscar Kramer. Directed by Carlos Sorin. Screenplay, Santiago Calori, Salvador Roselli, Sorin.

Crew

Camera (color), Hugo Colace; editor, Mohamed Rajid; music, Nicolas Sorin; sound (Dolby Digital),Carlos Abbate, Jose Luis Diaz Ouzande (Abbate & Diaz). Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 15, 2004. (Also in San Sebastian Festival -- competing.) Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Juan Villegas, Walter Donado, Gregorio the dog, Rosa Valsecchi.
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