All In: Tribeca Review

Weirdly contrived screenplay hobbles an often likeable Argentine romance.

In Daniel Burman's film, Oscar winner Jorge Drexler plays a divorced dad who strives to enjoy his bachelor life.

NEW YORK — An Argentine import whose amiable vibe persists despite some odd screenwriting contrivances, Daniel Burman's All In  (La Suerte en Tus Manos) begs for the complaint that it never pushes all its chips into the pot, leaving viewers to expect much gutsier romantic gameplay from its perpetually half-hearted protagonist. The presence of musician Jorge Drexler in the lead may help theatrical prospects in Latin-leaning markets, but the arthouse outlook is mild.

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Drexler plays Uriel, a divorced dad who enters the picture in his doctor's office, declaring it's time to get a vasectomy so he can enjoy his bachelorhood with peace of mind. A hustler who's always looking for special deals (and cheerfully lies to get them), he's disconcertingly dishonest with his children as well, despite appearing to love them.
While on a gambling vacation, poker fan Uriel stumbles across his world weary ex-girlfriend Gloria (Valeria Bertuccelli), newly single and ready to be convinced she should give him another chance. But the two meet on the day of Uriel's surgery, and for some reason Uriel refuses to tell Gloria that's the reason he won't have sex with her immediately.
Instead, he says he wants to take things slow, giving her the romance he avoided when they knew each other way back when. But he goes beyond lies of omission, hatching further falsehoods about a career more glamorous than his job in finance -- the more time he spends with his old flame, the harder it becomes to tell the truth.
If we fail to identify with Uriel, the blame can't be placed on Drexler, who sinks into the part easily despite his lack of experience. (He won an Oscar for a song he composed for The Motorcycle Diaries, but is a novice onscreen.) Rather, it's that the screenplay forces him to continue behaving like love is an afterthought, long after he's meant to be focused on the relationship: Even in the film's ludicrous climax, there's no obstacle keeping the two from each other -- Uriel simply decides to keep playing poker when he's supposed to have a make-or-break date with his children and girlfriend.
Poker has plenty of potential as a metaphor here, but the script can't figure out what to do with it. The pic relies even more heavily on Jewish themes, for no clear reason beyond building to a silly musical number at the end, in which Uriel's guitar-playing son jams with a band called -- surely this is better in Spanish -- the Rabbi-ing Stones. As weird as the screenplay is, the leads' performances keep the movie afloat, earning more goodwill than their characters probably deserve.
Venue: Tribeca Film Festival, World Narrative Competition
Production Company: BDCine
Cast: Jorge Drexler, Valeria Bertuccelli, Norma Aleandro, Gabriel Schultz, Luis Brandoni, Paloma Alvarez Maldonado, Lucciano Pizzichini
Director: Daniel Burman
Screenwriters: Daniel Burman, Sergio Dubcovsky
Producer: Diego Dubcovsky
Executive producer: Jimena Blanco
Director of photography: Daniel Ortega
Production designer: Lilia Scenna
Music: Nico Cota
Costume designer: Roberta Pesci
Editor: Luis Barros
Sales: Jimena Blanco, BD Cine
No rating, 112 minutes