A tardy romance between two aging lovebirds, "Elsa & Fred" is predictable fare that only occasionally fulfils its intention of being simultaneously heartbreaking and heartening. Pic's appealingly innocent air and the odd moment of authentic emotion don't compensate for a general clunkiness in the direction. Pic did unexpectedly solid B.O. in Argentina following its August, 2005 release, but reaction in Spain has been more muted for a project that seems tailor-made for seniors.

A tardy romance between two aging lovebirds, “Elsa & Fred” is predictable fare that only occasionally fulfils its intention of being simultaneously heartbreaking and heartening. Pic’s appealingly innocent air, two robust central perfs, and the odd moment of authentic emotion don’t compensate for a general clunkiness in the direction, with interest levels plummeting whenever the two vets, China Zorrilla and Manuel Alexandre are apart. Pic did unexpectedly solid B.O. in Argentina following its August, 2005 release, but reaction in Spain has been more muted for a project that seems tailor-made for seniors.

Shy, embittered widower Fred (Alexandre — until now, Spain’s longest-serving supporting thesp) moves in opposite sparky Elsa (Zorrilla, looking terrif). The two meet after she’s backed into a car belonging to his daughter Cuca (Blanca Portillo). Fellini fanatic Elsa has always dreamed of traveling to the Trevi Fountain in Rome, and now, as Fred blossoms, she gets her chance. Alexandre’s physical frailty and control are a spot-on counterpoint to Zorrilla’s delightfully excessive exuberance, the pair weaving a delicate magic built on a combined 100-plus years of thesping experience. Lito Vitale’s score is pleasant but shamelessly manipulative.

Elsa & Fred

Spain - Argentina

Production

An Alta Films release of a Tesela (Spain)/Shazam (Argentina) production, with the participation of TVE, Canal Plus. (International sales: Sogepaq, Madrid.) Produced by Jose Antonio Felez. Directed by Marcos Carnevale. Screenplay, Carnevale, Lily Ann Martin, Marcela Guerty, Jose Antonio Felez.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Juan Carlos Gomez; editor, Nacho Ruiz Capillas; music, Lito Vitale. Reviewed at Cine Princesa, Madrid, Nov. 19, 2005. Running time: 106 MIN.

With

Manuel Alexandre, China Zorrilla, Blanca Portillo, Roberto Carnaghi, Jose Angel Egido, Carlos Alvarez-Novoa, Federico Luppi.
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