Too busy by half while offering a lavish look at Cuba’s privileged, “Love by Mistake” is a sex comedy with attention deficit disorder. Unlike his much blacker “Adorable Lies,” helmer-co-writer Gerardo Chijona aims for a more farcical take on contempo male-female relations, but he so overpopulates his film with characters and incidents that his central subject — the ups and downs of a famous novelist — gets lost. Cuban-Spanish co-production is best suited for the upscale Ibero-American market.
Returning from a European trip, esteemed author Julio (Luis Alberto Garcia) is immediately up to his neck in problems, from major home repairs to the prospect of daughter Milly (Monica Alonso Solares) marrying a much older man Manolo (vet thesp Sancho Gracia), who is a Spaniard.
Ten years away from his last major work, Julio is starting to feel the pressure to deliver, and now publishers are turning down his latest manuscript. In addition, his lover Silvia (Beatriz Valdes Fidalgo) is insisting more and more strongly that he divorce his wife Myriam (Susana Perez).
Pic is clever enough to present Julio’s hyper-extended world as he experiences it one moment at a time, but the comedy grows exhausting as situations pile up in what feels like a substitute for a thoughtful character study. Silvia’s adventures alone would be enough for a movie, as she impatiently dumps Julio for a handsome fellow (Mijail Mulkay Bordon Perdomo), only to discover he has a gay lover.
Fortunately, thesps have a firm grip on their characters, so auds don’t get entirely lost in the shuffle. Garcia delivers his beleaguered artist as more human than buffoon, and Fidalgo creates a woman with real needs for love to the degree the script permits. Slick production feels more Spanish than Cuban, while setting is exclusively in wealthy Havana. Project was developed via the Sundance Institute.