RICH IN LOVE
Teto (Danilo Mesquita) is a handsome playboy, the lazy spoiled heir to the major tomato business empire of his father Teodoro Trancoso (Ernani Moraes). During a local tomato festival, he met capable medical intern Paula (Giovanna Lancellotti). Unsure whether he could win her without knowing his real circumstances, Teto lied that he was just the poor son of the farm caretaker who wanted more in life. When he went to Rio de Janeiro to train for an executive position in their company, Teto solicits the help of his friends to continue his complicated charade to woo Paula.
The plot of this Brazilian film was actually very common -- about a lie that kept on growing until it just fell under its own weight. However, it remained to be very watchable just because of its lead stars Mesquita and Lancelloti (and the romantic chemistry between them) are too attractive to resist. The supporting roles of Igor (Jaffar Bambirra) and Monique (Lellê) were also very likable despite being Teto's accomplices in his big lie. A major plot hole would of course be the sheer impossibility that the managers of the tomato company in Rio would not know how their boss's only son Teto looked like, especially since they knew of his notoriety as a ladies' man. Anyhow, this remained to be a light, diverting and entertaining watch.
ONE DAY WE'LL TALK ABOUT TODAY
Narenda (Donny Damara) and Ajeng (Susan Bachtiar) have three adult children who still live with them, a very close-knit family. Eldest brother Angkasa (Rio Dewanto) worked with concert musicians. Middle child Aurora (Sheila Dra) was a mixed-media artist about to have her first public exhibit. The youngest daughter Awan was an budding architect still competing to work for her dream firm. However after Awan met band manager Kale (Ardhito Pramono), the children began to feel the pressure of their father's over-protectiveness.
This Indonesian film (based on a book by Marcella F.P.) was a compelling family drama about a festering secret that manifested itself only after two decades of strained artificial harmony. The story was told flashing back from present to the past. The color palette, musical score and production design were all excellently done. There were two sets of actors playing the parents (Oka Antara and Niken Anjani played the younger set), and three sets of actors playing the children at different ages. The actors were very good, however, the younger actors did not really look like their older versions, and this careless casting somewhat negatively-affected the totality of this otherwise above-average film.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
On the day of the major scholarship exam, an unusual girl named Vivek (Yashaswini Dayamawho) decided to boycott the exam to make a statement. She grabbed her permit out and ran off. She realized too late that she had inadvertently grabbed the permit of the popular head boy Ashwin (Karanvir Malhotra) out as well, which caused him to also be unable to take the exam. Because of this mishap, Vivek and Ashwin ended up spending the whole day together out in the streets of Mumbai, and struck a special friendship between them.
This unusual Indian movie had a good part of its script in English, but it was still not really an easy watch. Older viewers may just give up after the first 30 minutes. However, if you do decide to give the film a chance, it would go from one weird scene after the other -- dancing senior citizens wearing red tracksuits, stealing a bottle of alcohol from a a bar, and strange encounters with a guy urinating on a roofdeck, a motorbike thief trying to recover dentures, and a neglected hungry goldfish. Director Megha Ramaswamy's concept of cinematic art in her first feature-length film may look whimsically indie, but was ultimately very puzzling. Only the quirky charms of the two young lead actors can hold your attention enough to finish this film to see where it led.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."