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AN UNEXPECTED LOVE gets 5.5/10 Full hearts


Directed by Juan Vera
Starring Ricardo Darín, Mercedes Morán

5.5/10

It’s tricky to pin down what exact love this film’s title is referring to, as it contains plenty of it (or at least mere romance). The title may be ironic, given how little surprise there is amongst the love that is continuously conjured and dissolved by the two leading characters. An Unexpected Love may succeed in portraying their passing romances, but it doesn’t succeed in making them very interesting.

Starting off promising with quietly enjoyable life-like moments of marital pleasure, Marcos (Ricardo Darín) and Ana (Mercedes Morán) have just bid farewell to their only child as he travels to college, leaving this couple with a new structure in their household life. Although they seem happy enough, there’s still too much existential ennui that is simmering – to put it simply, Ana doesn’t feel in love with Marcos anymore.

So they split, with not a lot of drama or hostility, and both of these impossibly beautiful middle-age divorcees embark on single life, back to flirting, dates, hook-ups, and short-term relationships. Just like this couple, the film meanders around, trying and failing to find satisfaction. One harmful pitfall that rom-coms (even unHollywoodised Argentinean ones like this) tend to succumb to is the unconditional love it has for its main characters. Although this not-too-drama-heavy film throws out some unexpected rough patches in their dating lives, it can never quite view these characters without rose-coloured glasses.

It may contain a varying amount of wisdom in the dialogue for audiences of varying age groups, one of which is “there’s nothing more pornographic than happiness”. This is a suitable line for a number of happy-go-lucky rom-coms, though it also applies in part to certain scenes in this film itself. Earlier moments of marital comfort are endearing and engaging for how delicately and realistically they portray husband and wife once the son has left the nest, though later scenes of their flings and relationships present too much of this gloating excitement or just awkwardly placed humour.

If you like your romance (and break-up) films to contain a middle-age perspective of the great amount of life that has passed and the great amount of life that’s ahead, this may be more the kind of film for you that puts this peculiar world of romance under the microscope, though its bumpy portrayal of post-divorce life is likely to not appeal to all. It is an earnest work, but it feels too much love for itself.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

An Unexpected Love plays at UWA Somerville from Monday, November 26 to Sunday, December 2, 8pm, and at ECU Joondalup Pines from Tuesday, December 4 to Sunday, December 9, 8pm.

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