Son of the Bride

"Excellent"

Son of the Bride Review


It's comforting to know that hard-working people everywhere suffer from stress just as we Americans do. Rafael Belvedere, the good-looking, divorced, 42-year old restaurateur in Juan José Campanella's Son of the Bride is proof. At the center of this Argentine/Spanish production (a 2002 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film), he is a foul-mouthed slave driver in the workplace, a forgetful Dad, an unfeeling son, and oh, he's about to have a heart attack. The health setback causes Rafael to rethink his path, and head for personal salvation; at the same time, Campanella redirects his own cinematic journey, turning a saccharine, overplayed concept into a smartly-written, touching family diary, full of drama and wit.

Just as the pre-cardiac arrest Rafa is vapid and unhappy, so is Campanella's film before the incident. Ricardo Darín, in the lead role, is a standout, sputtering dialogue like an angry boxer throwing jabs, but we've seen most of this before. He ignores the situations around him, works his fingers to the bone, and doesn't appreciate life. The prospects for an original, honest movie get worse when Rafa's aging father (Héctor Alterio) reveals his wish to renew his vows with Rafa's stunning mother (Norma Aleandro), regardless of her losing battle with Alzheimer's. Alterio's gushy proclamation is too sticky-sweet, and the film seems headed for soap opera territory.

Even just after Rafael's cardiac arrest, the film treads on well-worn paths, as the ill man envisions his destiny - it is all too reminiscent of the disappointing Life as a House, right down to Darín's performance being as sharp as Kevin Kline's was in that movie. But just as Campanella's film seems destined to be Life as a Restaurant, the writer/director pulls his tale out of the drippy muck.

Campanella's script, co-written with partner Fernando Castets, gracefully improves as the film progresses, as the writers enhance peripheral characters (Rafael's ex-wife, a childhood friend, his current girlfriend) without losing sight of the main plotlines. The dialogue also improves - the verbal clichés begin to fall away, and the dramatic moments are punctuated with greater brevity and heart. Even the music tones down.

Campanella's direction also gains a steadier hand, a slight glow, a respect for the actors' emotions. His artistic ability breaks through with each scene, specifically his unorthodox use of longer takes and reaction shots (especially those of Aleandro, who delivers a confident, heartbreaking performance). One sequence in particular, consisting of a revelatory confession viewed through a videophone monitor, is excellent, and will have most viewers hooked for the remainder of the film.

The single aspect of Son of the Bride that seems most stilted, of course, is Campanella's use of Alzheimer's to gain sympathy. But, as is the cruelty and beauty of life, it is the only piece of the puzzle that is factual, as Campanella based that part of the story on his own father's similar wishes. Thankfully, Campanella keeps the middle stages of the woman's mental deterioration accurate, as Aleandro repeats singular phrases, cusses like a sailor, and barely recognizes anyone.

It is then all the more heartbreaking when the character does enjoy happiness, appearing to glimpse a memory here or there. And it also brings a fascinating question to light: do the loved ones around an Alzheimer's patient create situations with that person for their own selfish reasons? In this film, the question is more important than the answer, as it reflects a filmmaker that turns a hollow introduction into a sweet, thoughtful movie, in a redemptive move that his main character could appreciate.

Aka El Hijo de la Novia.

The son ogles the mother of the bride.



Son of the Bride

Facts and Figures

Run time: 123 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 16th August 2001

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 49 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Juan José Campanella

Starring: Ricardo Darín as Rafael Belvedere, Héctor Alterio as Nino Belvedere, as Norma Belvedere, as Juan Carlos, as Naty

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.