“Autumn Sun” is a warmly satisfying late-in-life love story distinguished by superior work from two of Argentina’s best-known actors, Federico Luppi and Norma Aleandro, who won San Sebastian’s best actress award for her role. Though little more than a telemovie at heart, this classy, intelligently scripted romance is solidly directed by Eduardo Mignogna and, judging by its reception in Spain, should travel well in Latin American and some Euro territories.
Single, middle-aged Jewish woman Clara (Aleandro) places an ad in the lonely-hearts column of a Buenos Aires newspaper to find a Jewish soul mate. The sole reply comes from a scruffy but charming oldster, Raul (Luppi), who she soon discovers is gentile and sends on his way. But Clara’s real reason for taking the ad is the impending visit of her brother from Boston. Having convinced him of her long-term involvement with a respectable Jewish man, Clara has no alternative but to enlist Raul’s services to fill the role of her phantom lover.
Mignogna and co-writer Santiago Carlos Oves coax gentle, non-patronizing laughs from Clara’s intensive Jewish training course and Raul’s efforts to pass himself off as a man of her faith. When Clara’s brother cancels his visit, the wheels of a deeper attachment have already been set in motion.
Along with flashes of seedy, crime-ridden Buenos Aires street life that never really amount to much, the script’s observations about the apparent wall of difference between Jews and gentiles fades out of the picture, replaced by a more conventional love story. But given the depth of the lead performances and the strong chemistry between them, it’s enough to sustain things.
Aleandro (from 1986 Oscar winner “The Official Story”) fully conveys the trepidation with which a fiftysomething woman, almost comfortable with her own solitude, hesitates before taking the romantic plunge. Initially tough and purposeful, she becomes more vulnerable as her character’s feelings evolve. Luppi also brings real warmth to his likable role, mixing gallantry with upfront directness.