Having survived the crash landing of the long-delayed and studio-botched Hollywood entry "View From the Top" with his funny bone intact, vet helmer Bruno Barreto is back on safer, more fertile ground in Brazil with the sparkling, Shakespeare-inspired comedy "Romeo and Juliet Get Married."
Having survived the crash landing of the long-delayed and studio-botched Hollywood entry “View From the Top” with his funny bone intact, vet helmer Bruno Barreto (“Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands,” “Four Days in September”) is back on safer, more fertile ground in Brazil with the sparkling, Shakespeare-inspired comedy “Romeo and Juliet Get Married.” Bouncy tale of a star-crossed couple whose allegiances to competing soccer teams can’t stand in the way of their love will score goals with auds across the board eager for a universal story, saucily told.
Successful lawyer and sports addict Alfredo (Luis Gustavo) is such a huge fan of Sao Paolo’s real-life Palmeiras football club that he’s the chairman of the organization and has even named his girl Juliet: “Juli” for Julinho, and “et” for Echevarietta, two of the team’s most famous players. Juliet (Luana Piovani) loves the team, too, though funds supporting the women’s club for which she plays have dried up.
One day, as her beloved Palmeiras plays arch-rival Corinthians, Juliet is smitten with ophthalmologist Romeo (Marco Ricca), who runs the Corinthians’ lusty band of boosters.
Realizing the only way to win Juliet’s heart is to pretend to be a Palmeiras fan, Romeo jumps through increasingly difficult comedic hoops with friends and family to keep the steamy relationship a secret, anguishing all the while over his betrayal.
The complex subterfuge boils over during a turbulent plane ride back from an away match, forcing Romeo to take refuge from the onboard Palmeiras fans in the cockpit: “Does this door lock?” he asks the astonished pilot.
As he did in his 2000 comedy “Bossa Nova,” Barreto kicks things off at breakneck speed and rarely pauses for breath. Thus, both comedies play like Preston Sturges films dubbed into Portuguese, with all the frantic verbal gymnastics and loopy flights of fancy the comparison entails. Comedic highlights include a seduction scene in which the Palmeiras colors come into play, a chaotic hospital room sequence featuring team mascots and the climactic family showdown observed by an entire apartment building full of tenants. There’s even a “Green Stain Society” of boosters, reminiscent of Sturges’ Ale and Quail Club.
Tube vet Gustavo is a frenetic delight as the excitable Alfredo, with rest of cast working hard to keep pace. Similarly in the screwball spirit are Berta Zemel as Romeo’s outspoken grandmother and Renato Consorte as an ancient, still-revered former soccer star who’s never given the chance to finish reminiscing over past glories.
Tech credits are bright and sassy, befitting the story’s colorful milieu and cocky tone. Debuting producer Paula Barreto is the helmer’s sister.