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THE MYSTERY OF HAPPINESS A Fine Bromance

myst2Director Daniel Burman

Starring Guillermo Francella, Inés Estévez, Fabián Arenillas

 

What starts out as an example of a bromantic comedy soon takes a swing to the more traditional romantic sort, when a business partner goes missing and is replaced by his wife.

Business partners Santiago (Guillermo Francella) and Eugenio (Fabián Arenillas) have been friends for most of their lives. They run their business together with an amazing synchronicity, be that in a meeting, or playing doubles paddle tennis. One day, after a tempting offer for their electronics store, Eugenio disappears. Soon his wife, the somewhat neurotic Laura (Inés Estévez), appears to take over Eugenio’s part of the business. While getting to know each others eccentricities Laura and Santiago must discover how they can work together to both run a business and solve the mystery of Eugenio’s disappearance.

The Mystery Of Happiness is the sort of foreign film that if you squint hard enough you can actually see the American actors that would be cast in a Hollywood remake. This is a light and enjoyable movie, not really veering from expected genre conventions, save for its shift from buddy comedy to romantic comedy. That’s not a criticism: it knows what it wants to be and achieves this to the best of its means, providing a pithy, well-paced comedy with some care and intelligence taken in its construction. The end result is entertaining and very easy to watch.

That aside, there is really not too much to discuss here. There is a subtext implying that you never know another person as well as you think you do, there is always another aspect of them that remains separate and hidden. In Santiago and Laura’s investigation of Eugenio each of them turn up an aspect involving the other life in which they are strangely absent. Director Daniel Burman uses a mirroring of these sequences to highlight the effect of the discovery upon each of them in turn. In fact, repetition with subtle changes is a well used device in this film. A montage of a typical day at the office plays out a number of times, with subtle differences (Santiago and Eugenio, a forlorn Santiago after Eugenio absconds, Santiago and Laura). Each time reflects a change in the dynamic. Burman also makes good use of the score, with a Latino beat adding a quick pace to the proceedings.

Francella and Estevez seem well matched, managing to get a good cadence as they bounce rapid fire barbs off each other. However the true chemistry of this film belongs to Francella and Arenillas. The opening sequence with both of them totally in step with each other, unconsciously mirroring the others actions, is just a joy to watch, with the joke just growing as the scene progresses.

A lightweight comedy but with an artful enough construction to keep most happy.

 

DAVID O’CONNELL

 

The Mystery Of Happiness screens at ECU Joondalup Pines from Tuesday, February 10, until Sunday, February 15, as part of Lotterywest Festival Films. For tickets and session times, go to perthfestival.com.au.

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