SuperClasico

 Courtesy of TIFF

Most of the movies submitted for the foreign-language Oscar tend to be weighty dramas on momentous themes. Occasionally, however, a comedy slips into the competition. Last year, Sweden's delightful entry, Simple Simon, was shortlisted but failed to snag one of the five noms. This year, neighboring country Denmark has submitted SuperClasico, an entertaining look at divorce, wine, tango, soccer and teen romance. It's probably too lightweight to make it to the Oscar ceremony, though it deserves to secure distribution as an imperfect but undeniable crowd-pleaser.

Christian (Anders W. Berthelsen) has been in a funk ever since his wife (Paprika Steen) left him to run off with a star soccer player from Argentina. (The SuperClasico is the championship match in that country.) Christian's wine shop is failing, and he's been raising his 16-year-old son, Oscar (Jamie Morton), on his own since his wife decamped. Now she wants to finalize their divorce, but Christian decides to take Oscar to Buenos Aires to see if they can change her mind. There he finds her living in luxury with her slightly dim-witted but muscular boyfriend (Sebastian Estevanez). During their South American excursion, Oscar becomes infatuated with a teenage tour guide (Dafne Schilling), while Christian is tempted by the attentions of the household's dour maid (Adriana Mascialino), a former tango champion who proves to be more sensual than first impressions suggest.

Director and co-writer Ole Christian Madsen provides a wry voice-over narration in the style of Jules and Jim to comment on the characters and the action. In contrast to many other movies these days, the narration is not expository; rather, it's meant to provide bemused reflections on the sometimes lunatic behavior of the characters, and although the narration is witty, it is overused. Fortunately, there are enough choice comic encounters to compensate for the film's literary posturings -- a scene in which Christian is robbed and stripped of his clothes by a group of polite muggers is indicative of the film's quirky sense of humor.

The actors also help to keep us involved. Steen gives an energetic performance in a fairly unsympathetic role, and Berthelsen is best of all. Although he's playing an overweight sad sack, he retains our sympathy and even exudes an offbeat sex appeal that makes the maid's pursuit of him credible and funny.

Overall, SuperClasico ranks as a pleasing holiday for the audience as well as the characters.

Cast: Paprika Steen, Anders W. Berthelsen, Adriana Mascialino
Director: Ole Christian Madsen
Producers: Signe Leick Jensen, Lars Bredo Rahbek

 

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