This magnificent Argentinean film centers on Rafael (Ricardo Darín), a restaurateur whose life is becoming a knot of stress and failing relationships. When his father, Nino (Héctor Alterio), decides that after 44 years ... more »of marriage he wants to give his wife, Norma (Norma Aleandro), the church wedding she always wanted, Rafael scoffs; Norma has advanced Alzheimer's and doesn't recognize where she is or who's around her. After Rafael has a heart attack, he realizes he has to change his life--but when he makes changes, he discovers how much of his life he'd been taking for granted, and that he may have cast aside the very things he seeks. Son of the Bride is smartly and richly written, directed with generosity and precision, and full of astonishingly full performances. The story's full of clever touches, but it never lets cleverness overwhelm humanity. Simply a superb movie. --Bret Fetzer« less
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 04/03/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As with "Lantana" earlier this year, "Son of the Bride " deals with a man (Ricardo Darin as Rafael) approaching middle age and questioning everything about his life and career and wanting, craving really a change. But whereas, "Lantana" is a hard hitting, in your face, frankly sexual murder mystery..."Son of the Bride" is a humane and gentle reflection on what is and what might have been in the life of Rafael Belvedere, his parents, his daughter, girlfriend and his ex-wife. Rafael's father Nino settled in Argentina in the 1920's and opened a restaurant with his mother, Norma played by the South American Meryl Streep, Norma Aleandro who is now in the throes of Alzheimers. Rafael took charge of the restaurant when Nino retired and has built up the business to the point that a huge corporation is anxious to buy it. Rafael is literally at the end of his rope: overworked, spread too thin and not at all happy with his relationships with others when he has a heart attack and begins the process of re-evaluating his life and goals.
There is a beautifully written and acted scene between Rafael and his mother in which Rafael, trying to heal wounds that developed years before when he decided to go into the family business instead of going to college, explains to the pathetically non-comprehending Norma that he has made a success of the failing family business and that his not going to college was a blessing. Rafael breaks down and sobs because he knows he should have healed these wounds before his mother's illness and because his mother is now way beyond the point of understanding and more importantly sharing in his triumphs and his financial windfall. This scene is extraordinarity heartfelt in that the very personal tragedy of this family becomes universal because of the directors (Juan Jose Campanella) deft and unobtrusive handling of the actors and the mise en scene.
"Son of the Bride" is shot in the deep rich, almost baroque colors of "The Godfather,"which adds an extra depth of latin flavor and sensibility to the proceedings.
All the acting is first rate with Ricardo Darin coming off best in the meatier role. His Rafael is at times King Lear and at others Hamlet: raging at this life and moodily pondering his future. Norma Aleandro is luminous as Norma: her quietly pathetic descent into Alzheimers is a model of the small gesture and quiet nuanced vocal utterance...a far cry from Judy Dench's over-the-top, operatic performance in "Iris."
"Son of the Bride"once again reminds us that that we can no longer ignore the fact that the filmmakers of South America are producing some of the finest films and best performances of the new Milennium ("Burnt Money" "Our Lady of the Assassins") and it behooves any of us interested in the best of the contemporary cinema to pay close attention."
One of the most life affirming films of the past decade
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are not enough positive adjectives to adequately describe the impact of this beautiful little film from Argentina. The writer and director have created a universal story about the place to which we've come as a society in the 21st Century. The alienation of the individual whether by self induced means of over-reaching in career achievement, by the problem of the senior citizens groping for a place in this fast paced, youth oriented world, or by the 'new' diseases such as Alzheimers - all are put into his story, stirred with love and intellect, and the result is a feast for the soul and the heart. Ricardo Darin subtly progresses from a divorced, distant father completely absorbed by a restaurant business he inherited and has only submerged himself in because of his need to at some point please his mother. Hector Alterio is his father who remains at the side of his Alzheimer wife (incredibly portrayed by the immensely gifted Norma Aleandro), seeking only to grant her 'forgotten' wish of a true wedding. The simplicity of this gesture of love alters the lives of all characters. After a stay in the ICU following a myocardial infarction, the son (Darin) finds his way back to the meaning of love, of family, of changing the focus of his life. This story may sound banal as stated, but with a cast of main and supporting actors of this quality, I doubt there will be a dry eye in the room when you gift yourself with this film. A little masterpiece."
Humble comeuppance that reaches for the sky
Peggy Vincent | Oakland, CA | 06/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a wonderful film! Rafael, stressed and overworked, is rapidly screwing up all the important relationships in his life. He's already divorced, is about to lose his lovely girlfriend, nearly stands up his about-10yo daughter, and doesn't understand why his charming father would want a church wedding for his `wife' of 44 years, esp since she's suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Then he has a heart attack - and goes thru a classic change of life. But in this case, he first makes everything worse before figuring out how to make it all beter.
Incandescent performances by everyone. Really an astonishingly wonderful Argentinean movie almost overflowing with touches of humanity."
If life passes you by, what are you waiting for to catch up?
Rodrigo Llamozas | the last cubicle at the end of the hall... | 12/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This little seen Argentinian film is, simply put, one of the most refreshing comedies of the last few years. Nominated for a Foreign Language Film Academy Award in 2001, the movie stars Ricardo Darin (Nine Queens) as Rafael, a man who operates a restaurant once owned by his parents, Nino and Norma. Basically, the film shows us how Rafael's life changes through a series of events that happen to him and his family, with the final message being that there's more to life than work, and that love is the strongest force there is (at least, that's my take). The tag line says it all: "If life passed you by, what are you waiting for to catch up?". It has some of the funniest dialogues ever, showcasing, in a not-so-stereotypical way, how people from Buenos Aires speak and behave (and I should know, my wife's family's from there!) - although it should be said that some of it may get lost in the translation, especially when really local expressions are used.The acting is excellent accross the board. Darin is great as the not-so-likeable protagonist, with whom we grow closer as the movie progresses, and most of the other characters, like his girlfriend Naty (the lovely Natalia Verbeke), his ex-wife (Claudia Fontán) and others, while not having that much screen time, give great performances. But the best acting of the film is done by Héctor Alterio, as Nino, Rafael's father, Norma Aleandro (they've worked together in many films, most notably The Official Story, and most recently Cleopatra, with Natalia Oreiro) who plays Norma, his Alzheimer's disease suffering mother, and by Eduardo Blanco, who plays Juan Carlos, his wacky childhood friend who has become an actor.If you're in the mood to try something that's decidedly not Hollywood, yet refreshing, funny and heartwarming, be sure to give this movie a look. It's well worth it!"
A story about what is important in life...
M. B. Alcat | Los Angeles, California | 05/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Son of the Bride" is a story about family, love, and what is really important in life. It takes place in Argentina, during its 2001 economic crisis, but I think that everybody can relate to the subject it tackles, disregarding the place where one lives.
The main character is Rafael (Ricardo Darín), a self-absorbed man in his forties who runs a prestigious Italian restaurant, "Belvedere". Rafael is separated, and has a daughter he often forgets to pick up due to his numerous responsibilities. Rafael also has a beautiful girlfriend, Naty (Natalia Verbeke), but doesn't pay her enough attention, so their relationship starts to go to the dogs.
Rafael's relationship with Nino (Héctor Alterio), his father, is good, but he hasn't seen her mother Norma (Norma Aleandro) in a year. He had a huge argument with her after dropping out of university, and they stopped talking to each other. Some time after that, his mother got Alzheimer's disease, an illness that made her forgetful and disoriented. As a result of all this, they never really manage to patch things up.
Truth to be told, Rafael doesn't seem to mind. His entire life is his job, and he is content. That is, until he has a heart attack, something that leads him to revaluate his priorities, and to see things from another perspective. An excellent example is that while before he was against his father's idea of marrying Norma in a church (in a belated religious wedding after 44 years of being married), he ends up helping him to do exactly that. In a way, he realizes that even though Norma won't be aware of what exactly is happening, his parents would be doing something terribly important to them.
But will Rafael be able to change his life after making such a tremendous mess out of things?. What is more, will he learn the real meaning of the word "family"?. Watch "Son of the bride", and learn all that, and more. On the whole, highly recommended !!!