Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Brazil/USA, 2000. Columbia Pictures Television, Columbia TriStar Comercio Internacional (Madeira) Ltda., Filmes do Equador, Globo Filmes, Luiz Carlos Barreto Produções Cinematográficas, Sony Corporation of America. Screenplay by Alexandre Machado, Fernanda Young, based on the story A Senhorita Simpson by Sergio Sant’Anna. Cinematography by Pascal Rabaud. Produced by Lucy Barreto, Luiz Carlos Barreto. Music by Eumir Deodato. Production Design by Cassio Amarante, Carla Caffe. Costume Design by Emilia Duncan. Film Editing by Ray Hubley.
Full of contrivances and cliches, ridden with all the typical plot elements of any kind of ensemble romance piece, this film on the outset seems like nothing new. Maybe it’s the beautiful Rio de Janeiro backdrop that this film is set against, maybe it’s the opportunity to see Amy Irving in all her glory, but for some reason none of these shortcomings work against the film’s highly enjoyable nature. Irving (director Bruno Barreto’s then wife) stars as an English teacher in Rio who teaches classes by night and private students by day. Across the hall from her classes is the shop of an elderly tailor, whose lawyer son (Antônio Fagundes) is helping his father get out of an alimony fix that involves a much younger wife. One night Pedro Paulo runs into our heroine on the elevator, and love at first sight is born. Right away he forgets about Tania, the ex-wife (Débora Bloch) he was having trouble letting go of, and goes after this mysterious new woman in his life. Along the sidelines there are plots that involve Irving’s student Nadine (Drica Moraes) and her online romance with a SoHo artist ‘Gary’, and another regarding the lawyer’s intern Sharon (Giovanna Antonelli) and her romance with both her boss’ brother Roberto and the famous soccer player Acacio (Alexandre Borges), who also happens to be taking private English lessons from Mary Ann. All these lines cross and meet and even out in perfect form, and yet somehow at its most typical the film manages to be at its most enjoyable, possibly because Barreto has such a good time entertaining his audience that one can’t help but dive right in.