Charm City

The Mystery of Happiness *** (out of five)

el-misterio-de-la-felicidadIf you miss the (modern) golden era of Hollywood RomComs – of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt – then Daniel Burman’s The Mystery of Happiness may warm your heart immensely; it’s also terrific for those who love film as travel, allowing us a gently comic, shiny and slick view of contemporary, upper-middle class Buenos Aires, which, as presented here art least, is a delightful place to be.

Santiago (Guillermo Francella) and Eugenio (Fabián Arenillas) are business partners and best friends. One day Eugenio goes AWOL, and Santiago teams up with his mate’s wife Laura (Inés Estévez) to find him. In the process, both learn things about Eugenio they never knew, and – would you know it – about each other.

It’s a neat little plot and allows for an extremely cheerful, sunny film, but the huge collateral – especially for those who’ve never encountered them before – lies with Francella and Estévez, who are both absolutely delightful screen presences. He’s a Tom Hanks / Robin Williams type, but more handsome than either and with a fabulously friendly glint in his eye; she’s a stunning blonde comedienne in the vein of Téa Leoni (or Meg Ryan or Helen Hunt, or, pushing back into another era altogether, Goldie Hawn). Intriguingly, although both are well established Argentinian actors, neither are known as strictly comedic.

It’s neither full of great one-liners nor any great meaning, but if ever a film gets by on charm and charisma alone, this is it. By the way, the leads are fifty (Estévez) and sixty (Francella), not that you’d possibly pick it. I thought they were in their thirties. They look incredible, but regardless, how nice that they’re the leads of such a film. Also, the ending is a stunner.

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