Projections - Movie Reviews

Bossa Nova Bossa Nova

A farce with romance shivering through it, set to sensuous Brazilian beats customized by Tom Jobim is Bossa Nova, a tangled, somewhat amusing diversion from Bruno Barreto that evokes the eccentric ways of Howard Hawks, but maybe has too furious a spirit in its agile steps.

Starring his actress wife, Amy Irving as a 40-ish American widow making a living in Rio de Janeiro as an English teacher, Barreto's 14th film pays homage to famed Bossa Nova composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and the esteemed late French helmer Francios Truffaut, as it drives the droll, sketched romances with amorously dreamy tunes.  It makes for some moments of passion that oddly blur with fantasy, and even Truffaut might have enjoyed some of this flawed, frantic frolicking that ends up on a solemn note before an unusual coda at a Rio air terminal where almost all get their just deserts.

Irving's lonely Mary Ann bemoans the loss of her pilot husband whom she met while a stewardess during a swim in the deep blue harbor of Rio, in a cathartic, stunning moment of mystery.

Mary Ann doesn't really give herself much of a chance for new romantic partners, but a bit of real-life magic touches her when she gains the attention of a lawyer from a family of high-brow tailors, Pedro Paulo, a suave Antonio Fagundies, as the teacher at a ritzy private school doesn't want her love life to be fulfilled via the Internet like her gullible private student/pal Nadine virtually enamored with hippy conceptual Soho artist.  Brought together by a sliding elevator door, Mary Ann and Pedro Paulo are affected by people and incidents that surround them as her students and his father Juan (a young-looking Alberto De Mendoza), whose shop is in the same building as the widow's classroom, add to the European, gradually farcical interwoven nature of Bossa Nova.

Getting in Mary Ann's class is Pedro Paulo's flirtatious scheme though he's well intoned in the foreign language, as his personal problems involve the end of his marriage to a vixen, Tania (a chic Debora Bloch), a travel agent who is now with her Chinese Tia Chi instructor.  A star Rio soccer player Acacia (Alexandre Borges) needs to be proficient in English for his friends prowess and there's humor through his womanizing with his teacher and her instruction to him on profane trash talking.

Barreto's sonorous segments work to form a novel in a pacy, madcap format by his writers also includes the attorney's wily and sexy clerk, Sharon (Giovanna Antonelli) and her febrile, ambitious ways coincide for a while with the impulsive Acacio though she's attracted to Pedro Paulo's half- brother, Roberto, appealingly done with wistfulness by Pedro Cardoso.  Problems ensue for Juan concerning the future of his business from his latest rapacious ex-wife.  And Tania, contemplating a return to Pedro Paulo citing divisiveness in mores, assists the naive Nadine to hook up with her sweetheart in the Big Apple.

With its rhythmic score, Bossa Nova chaotically climaxes without an easy forecasting at a hospital emergency room as Barreto uses misunderstandings to close out this circular, rapidly beating story.  Though engaging for its syncopating individual vignettes, despite the suppressed guile from Irving, the slick, struggling Fagundes and the sparkling backdrop of Rio, too many strange encounters has Barreto's energetic, heartfelt feature skipping too many beats.

Bossa Nova

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