A wonderfully simpatico riff on a blocked composer's struggle to find the right music.

A wonderfully simpatico riff on a blocked composer’s struggle to find the right music — it’s revealing nothing to say that he picks up the right girl en route — “Music on Hold” reps a superior Argentinean screwballer in a field well known for its quality. Built around an engaging trio of thesps and a well-honed script that drolly punctures many of the cliches of the country’s cinema, the pic is witty early on before gliding smoothly into an understated tenderness in its final reel. Home biz on March release was good, and some offshore auds also could find their feet tapping.

Ezequiel (Diego Peretti) is a recently divorced composer who’s got 20 days to deliver a theme for a new movie — otherwise, he won’t be able to keep up his mortgage payments. Bank exec Paula (Natalia Oreiro) is pregnant by a guy who’s now left her, but she hasn’t told her mother (Norma Aleandro) about the split.

When Ezequiel calls the bank and is put on hold by Paula, the Muzak coming down the line is ideal for his score and he sets about tracking it down — no easy task. Paula’s mother turns up from Spain when Ezequiel is in her office, and Paula impulsively tells her that he is the father of her child.

The neat setup develops entirely credibly as Peretti and Oreiro deliver scenes of accumulating comic embarrassment with spot-on timing. Their growing intimacy is cleverly handled as almost a byproduct of Ezequiel’s desperation to find the piece of music among the hundreds the bank uses. He has more important things than love on his mind, but it’s there bubbling under the surface nonetheless.

Hangdog-looking Peretti, who has the kinds of features auds warm to right away, seems comfortable in a tailor-made role. Oreiro is content to let him do most of the comedy, but turns up the dial when necessary. Vet Aleandro is deliciously spiky as Paula’s mom.

The busy script is full of smartly observed detail caught by helmer Hernan A. Goldfrid in his feature debut. Guillermo Guareschi’s mostly lively music, which occasionally hints at classic scores, rises well to the challenge of a movie about film music.

Music on Hold

Argentina

Production

A Distribution Co. release of a Cine.Ar presentation of an Alta Definicion Argentina, BDcine, Cinecolor Argentina, Distribution Co. Argentina, Filmsuez production. (International sales: Distribution Co., Buenos Aires.) Produced by Diego Dubcovsky, Daniel Burman. Executive producer, Daniel Botti. Directed by Hernan A. Goldfrid. Screenplay, Patricio Vega, Julieta Steinberg.

Crew

Camera (color), Lucio Bonelli; editor, Alejandro Brodersohn; music, Guillermo Guareschi; art director, Maria Eugenia Sueiro; sound (Dolby Digital), Jesica Suarez. Reviewed at Argencine Film Festival, Madrid, June 13, 2009. Running time: 94 MIN.

With

Diego Peretti, Natalia Oreiro, Norma Aleandro, Carlos Bermejo.
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