Elsa y Fred

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A "Harold and Maude"-style love story in which both of the romantic figures are octogenarians, "Elsa & Fred" never quite manages to overcome its serious case of the cutes. But this Spanish/Argentine co-production offers some affecting and amusing moments along the way as well as terrific starring performances by film veterans China Zorrilla and Manuel Alexandre in the title roles.

Directed by Marcos Carnevale, who also co-scripted with Lily Ann Martin and Marcela Guerty, the story revolves around the burgeoning romance between Elsa, whose outrageous behavior and lust for living masks a terminal illness that she's not letting on about, and Fred, a retired widower whose innate dignity and reserve, not to mention his hypochondria, make him her polar opposite.

Meeting cute after Elsa gets into a minor hit-and-run accident with a car owned by Fred's daughter, the pair strike up an unlikely romance. Although he's more than a little taken aback at her tales of dalliances with male strippers and propensity for outrageous stunts, he's soon smitten, and even agrees to help her achieve her decades-long dream of traipsing in Rome's Trevi Fountain ala Anita Ekberg in "La Dolce Vita."

Never straying far from predictability in its alternately whimsical and poignant depiction of a doomed senior-citizen love affair, the film overcomes its numerous flaws -- including the fact that Zorrilla's Elsa doesn't really come across as the endearingly feisty alta kocker she's meant to be -- through its enduring appealing message that love is possible at any age.

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