A Bench in the Park

A fresh twist on the successful Spanish youth comedies of recent seasons, "A Bench in the Park" recalls the romantic talkfests of Eric Rohmer, spiced with the character quirks of Hal Hartley. Lightweight but agreeable feature bow by Catalan writer-director Agusti Vila deals with the role destiny plays in the quest for love. While the writing doesn't have quite the sparkle necessary to provide a strong commercial passport, pic is graced with a natural, appealing cast. Young audiences locally and at festivals should tap into the comedy's sweet, low-key humor.

A fresh twist on the successful Spanish youth comedies of recent seasons, “A Bench in the Park” recalls the romantic talkfests of Eric Rohmer, spiced with the character quirks of Hal Hartley. Lightweight but agreeable feature bow by Catalan writer-director Agusti Vila deals with the role destiny plays in the quest for love. While the writing doesn’t have quite the sparkle necessary to provide a strong commercial passport, pic is graced with a natural, appealing cast. Young audiences locally and at festivals should tap into the comedy’s sweet, low-key humor.

Looking to get involved after his girlfriend’s departure, Juan (Alex Brendemuhl) places himself in the path of a chance encounter. Selecting a park bench, he stations himself there at the same time each afternoon, followed by a stint at a cafe table. Both locations soon pay off, bringing him into the orbit of spiky, confrontational Alicia (Victoria Freire) and bookish Ana (Monica Lopez). While the dialogue-heavy material feels a little thin to sustain even this short feature length, its amusing observations about communicating, dating and romantic setups keep it entertaining. Handheld lensing of Barcelona locations becomes a trifle wearing.

A Bench in the Park

(COMEDY -- SPANISH)

Production: An Alta Films release (in Spain) of a Fernando Colomo PC/Alta Films production with participation of Canal Plus. Executive producer, Beatriz de la Gandara. Directed, written by Agusti Vila. Camera (color), David Omedes; editor, Miguel Angel Santamaria; music, Ian Briton; art director, Sofia Pape; costume designer, Annick Celine Turiaf; associate producer, Enrique Gonzalez Macho. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (Open Zone), Sept. 21, 1999. Original title: Un banco en el parque. Running time: 81 MIN.

With: With: Alex Brendemuhl, Victoria Freire, Monica Lopez, Aitor Merino, Gary Piquer, Francesco Garrido, Vicenta Ndongo, Ingrid Rubio, Rosana Pastor.

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