Superclasico

An unsuccessful Danish businessman pursues his estranged wife to Argentina in "Superclasico," a willfully hackneyed Danish laffer from helmer Ole Christian Madsen ("Flame and Citron").

With:
With: Anders W. Berthelsen, Paprika Steen, Jamie Morton, Sebastian Estevanez, Adriana Mascialino, Miguel Dedovich, Dafne Schilling, Mikael Bertelsen. (Danish, Spanish, English dialogue)

An unsuccessful Danish businessman pursues his estranged wife to Argentina in “Superclasico,” a willfully hackneyed Danish laffer from helmer Ole Christian Madsen (“Flame and Citron”). Part silly romantic comedy, part love letter to Buenos Aires, the pic amuses on a meta-level by celebrating and satirizing its own sense of cliche. Although it’s unclear whether Argentines will embrace the pic’s typecasting, more than 184,000 Danes bought tickets during its spring domestic release. At the very least, “Superclasico” reps cheerfully non-PC fest entertainment for those who appreciate fine wine, fanatical soccer fans, steamy Latin lovers and the tango.

Pudgy sadsack Christian (Anders W. Berthelsen) owns a failing wine shop whose stock he dips into with increasing frequency while moping over runaway wife Anna (Paprika Steen). A tough-as-nails sports agent, Anna now lives in Buenos Aires and wants to marry her star client, buff soccer striker Juan Diaz (Sebastian Estevanez), a cheerful fellow given to wandering around his gorgeous villa in the nude.

When Christian and teen son Oscar (Jamie Morton) turn up in Buenos Aires during the Superclasico, a local soccer match between longtime rival clubs, the ensuing events make Christian look like even more like a loser — that is, until Juan Diaz’s stern maid (Adriana Mascialino) restores his manhood in a scene that involves some odd special effects.

Meanwhile, Anna and Juan Diaz continue to plan their wedding, Oscar falls in love with local beauty Veronica (Dafne Schlling), a tour guide at La Recoleta cemetery, and Christian finds a kindred spirit in misanthropic vintner Medoza (Miguel Dedovich), who shares his violent feelings toward former wives.

An arch voiceover commentary by an unseen narrator (Mikael Bertelsen), gently mocking the characters and their feelings and advising viewers about their hidden thoughts, supplies the backbone for a playful meta-fiction layer operating throughout. Christian’s dialogue, too, plays a part, as he declares just about everything in Argentina, including Anna’s relationship with the hot, younger Juan Diaz, to be a cliche. And the main thesps revel in playing cartoonish versions of their normal screen personas: Berthelsen’s drunken, schlubby but still lovable loser, Steen’s gimlet-eyed, fast-talking ball-breaker and Estevanez’s beefcake heartthrob.

In another nice touch, Oscar’s tourist photos are included in upbeat montages that not only show the city to its best advantage, but also synthesize the various romances, including his own with Veronica.

Known primarily as a director of heavy drama, helmer Madsen proves equally adept at the comedy of marital discord. He draws full-blooded comic performances from his well-cast thesps without letting the story tip over into farce. Golden-hued widescreen lensing by Jorgen Johansson, Madsen’s longtime d.p., leads the attractive tech package, while the tango-flavored score adds appropriate texture.

More beauty shots of Buenos Aires under the end credits serve as a farewell kiss.

Superclasico

Denmark

Production: A Sandrew Metronome release of a Nimbus production with the support of DR TV; Nordisk Film & TV Fond. (International sales: the Match Factory, Cologne.) Produced by Lars Bredo Rahbek, Signe Leick Jensen. Executive producer, Bo Erhardt. Directed by Ole Christian Madsen. Screenplay, Madsen, Anders Frithiof August.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Jorgen Johansson; editor, Soren Ebbe; music, Jonas Struck; production designer, Soren Schwartzberg; art director, Pablo Maestre Galli; sound (Dolby Digital SRD), Hans Moller. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 10, 2011. Running time: 99 MIN.

With: With: Anders W. Berthelsen, Paprika Steen, Jamie Morton, Sebastian Estevanez, Adriana Mascialino, Miguel Dedovich, Dafne Schilling, Mikael Bertelsen. (Danish, Spanish, English dialogue)

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