Winner of the Argentinian Academy Award for Best Picture and the Goya Award for Best Latin American Film, Chinese Take-Away (Un Cuento Chino) is an amusing a heart-warming story of miscommunication, kindness, and the unpredictability of life. After the jump check out a review of the film, plus details about the upcoming Spanish Film Festival.
The 15th Annual Spanish Film Festival starts in Sydney on July 4th and takes place throughout July in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth.
From the Spanish Film Festival Website:
In putting together this year’s extraordinary line-up, the festival team have selected a variety of new films from some of our favourite directors such as Alberto Rodríguez, Santiago Segura and Daniel Sánchez Arévalo, as well as showcasing an array of impressive debut features from first-time directors such as Kenya Marquez and Rosario Garcia-Montero.
Some of this year’s festival highlights: Wrinkles (Arrugas), a sensitive and profound animation that was a run-away hit with audiences at the 2011 San Sebastian Film Festival; laugh-out-loud comedy Cousinhood (Primos);Chinese Take-Away (Un cuento chino) with the always charming and impressive Ricardo Darin; Sleep Tight (Mientras Duermes) – you’ll be lucky if you sleep a wink afterwards; and the riveting No Rest for the Wicked (No Habrá Paz para los Malvados) which swooped up several Goya Awards including Best Film, Best Actor and Best Director.
For information about all of the fantastic films on offer, and to book tickets, visit the official website.
A review of the charming Chinese Take-Away which is one of the great films showing at the festival is below.
Roberto (Ricardo Darín) is the owner of a small hardware store in Buenos Aires. He is stubborn, set in his ways, and follows a rather strict daily routine, which includes finding weird news stories to add to his collection. He isn’t exactly a people-person, and spends much of his days in a gloomy silence, ignoring those around him, including the lovely Mari (Muriel Santa Ana), who strangely sees something in him. One afternoon Roberto is out by the airport watching the planes land (his idea of a fun day out) when Jun (Huang Sheng Huang) is ejected from a taxi onto the side of the road beside him. Jun is very distressed and speaks no Spanish – he has an address written on his arm but no way of telling anyone why he is in Argentina.
While Roberto initially wants to walk away from Jun, his conscious gets the better of him and he decides to take him in and help him find what he has come to Argentina for. Through a series of sometimes frustrating acts and often fruitless searches, Roberto discovers Jun is an orphan who is searching for his uncle. The address one his arm belongs to the last-known address of the uncle, but he has since moved on. With the Chinese Embassy providing little help, and the two men unable to communicate well, a series of amusing, heart-lifting, and sometimes sad events unfolds. Roberto could never have imagined taking in a lost Chinese man, but it is this out-of-character kindness which teaches Roberto to start really living his life, and seeing those around him.
I expected this film to be cheesy, and instead I was utterly charmed but it’s humour and heart. Roberto is such a stubborn and isolated man, and the introduction of Jun into his life is a great shock to his ordered routine. I loved watching Roberto figure out how to live with someone else, and incorporate them into his life. While he is initially reluctant to give an inch, over time we see the cold façade start to slowly melt away, and the kind soul underneath emerges. This journey is not without a few bumps, and Roberto sometimes struggles greatly with the disruption in his life – he loses his temper more than once, and it is quite upsetting to see how this makes the helpless Jun feel. However by the end of the film, the opening of both his mind and his home, has positive flow-on effects in Roberto’s life, and he begins to live outside the confines he had created for himself.
There are some great comedic moments in this film, with miscommunication and misunderstandings causing some quite funny and awkward moments. Watching Jun get his head around Roberto’s way of life is very amusing, and it’s made even more interesting by the fact that there are no subtitles provided when Jun speaks – we only understand as much as Roberto does, which isn’t a lot at all. It’s a credit to Huang Sheng Huang that the audience is able to become so invested in his character, without being able to understand hardly anything that he is saying. Ricardo Darín gives a great performance as Roberto, a fascinating character who we slowly warm to the more we get to know him.
Overall this is an amusing and charming film about miscommunication, unexpected adventures, and about kindness. It’s amazing what can happen when you open your mind and your heart up to new people and to different ways of looking at the world. This film is bound to charm festival audiences, and is well worth a look.
Director: Sebastián Borensztein
Writer(s): Sebastián Borensztein
Starring: Ricardo Darín, Muriel Santa Ana, Ignacio Huang
Runtime: 93 minutes
Release date(s): Screens as part of the Spanish Film Festival at various times in June-July[programme]. Released in cinemas in Australia on September 20 2012