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The Wind

Eduardo Mignogna strips away the plot excesses of much of his previous work to focus on human truth in "The Wind," turning in a resonant family drama. Heavyweight tandem of helmer Mignogna and star Federico Luppi should guarantee Spanish-speaking play for the July 8 release, and pic could garner offshore exposure with upscale auds.

With:
With: Federico Luppi, Antonella Costa, Pablo Cedron, Esteban Meloni, Mariana Brisky, Ricardo Diaz Mourelle.

Eduardo Mignogna strips away the plot excesses of much of his previous work to focus on human truth in “The Wind,” turning in a beautifully restrained, resonant family drama. Examination of an aging man’s shot at personal redemption is let down only by occasional sluggishness and a slim secondary plot that distracts from the main story. Heavyweight tandem of helmer Mignogna and star Federico Luppi should guarantee Spanish-speaking play for the July 8 release, and pic’s air of quiet authority could garner offshore exposure with upscale auds.

On his daughter’s death, Patagonian sheep farmer Frank (Luppi) leaves his dog with his neighbor and heads for Buenos Aires to find his granddaughter, Alina (Antonella Costa). Ostensible reason for the trip is to tell her the bad news about her mother, but Frank also intends to reveal a secret he’s been carrying for 28 years about the identity of Alina’s father. (This only emerges in the final reel.)

The complexities here are presented swiftly and efficiently: Alina is in two relationships, one with young computer programmer Diego (Esteban Meloni), and the other with her boss at a children’s hospital, fortysomething doctor Dufour (Pablo Cedron).

Frank’s arrival throws the already-confused Alina into further upheaval. Much time and dialogue is devoted to Alina discussing her emotional problems with not only Diego and Dufour but also with her friend, Gabi (Mariana Brisky).

Alina quickly leaves the hapless Diego, and then reveals she’s pregnant by one of her two men. A subplot about a kid in the hospital who’s been caught in a robbery’s crossfire feels like a hangover from earlier, more sentimental Mignogna pics, and adds little.

The dependable Luppi plays Frank as a taciturn, Eastwood-like icon of old-world stoicism, turning in atowering perf as an inhabitant of an unchanging rural world who feels comically uncomfortable in the city. Costa carries the weight of Alina’s emotional tribulations rather too heavily. But her key relationship with Frank feels absolutely authentic.

Handheld lensing is apt for a film that’s mostly built on moments of intimacy, while use of high-grain film in the rural sections that bookend the yarn highlight the difference between city life and windswept Patagonia, where more enduring moral rules prevail. Juan Ponce De Leon’s piano-based score enhances the generally unfussy treatment.

The Wind

Argentina-Spain

Production: An Alta Classics release of a Retratos (Argentina)/Tesela (Spain) production, in association with TVE, Canal Plus. (International sales: Tesela, Madrid.) Executive producers, Claudio Etcheberry, Jose Antonio Felez. Directed by Eduardo Mignogna. Screenplay, Mignogna, Graciela Maglie.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Marcelo Camorino; editor, Marcela Saenz; music, Juan Ponce De Leon; art director, Margarita Jusid; sound (Dolby SRD), Jaime Barros. Reviewed at Cine Princesa, Madrid, July 5, 2005. Running time: 100 MIN.

With: With: Federico Luppi, Antonella Costa, Pablo Cedron, Esteban Meloni, Mariana Brisky, Ricardo Diaz Mourelle.

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