AN UNEXPECTED LOVE/ EL AMOR MENOS PENSADOS. Argentina, 2018. Starring Ricardo Darin, Mercedes Moran. Directed by Juan Vera. 1129 minutes. Rated M (Sex scenes and coarse language)
A drama of interest and appeal to older audiences, audiences who will identify with the two central characters, Marcos and Ana, played by two of Argentina’s premier actors, Ricardo Darin and Mercedes Moran.
Marcos and Ana have been married for 25 years and their only son is about to set off for overseas studies in Spain. The point is immediately made as to how the parents will cope, the “empty nest” syndrome (which they immediately deny), the question of how to handle a new phase of life without the attention and love given to the child (which, of course, can continue in an age of email, texting and Skype).
Marcos is a rather literary man, a philosopher, who can live happily in his head and with his books. Ana has her own interests, working in support groups for women. But, the question for them and for the audience, what is the meaning of their lives up till now and can it continue in the same vein as well as the question of their love for each other, sustained in the past, facing new demands and tests, facing new opportunities, possibilities for change and development.
Of course, the title has given away the plot – or at least tantalise the audience to want to watch what unexpected love is like and how it is lived out and what are the consequences.
The time pace of the film starts with days, moves to weeks, to months and even to years of how Marcos and Ana are coping. There is a mutual agreement on freedom, and initial letting down of hair, some rather raucous clubbing, affairs, setting up new accommodation, friendship but a day by day, month by month, even years by years, story of separate lives.
The filmmakers seem to presume that we are interested to see what happens in this post empty nest period of Marcos and Ana’s lives, whether they cope or not, what are the differences in their behaviour, and their work, in their personalities, in their relationships. And, there are a lot of relationships, built on what…? Needs? Love and affection? Or just companionship? Or just avoidance of being alone? How deep and how shallow are these unexpected loves?
And what if, Marcos and Ana ask each other, the unexpected loves are superficial and not nearly as deep as the love and companionship of the original love? Which is also a question that challenges the audience. Falling out of love? Unexpected loves? And need for emotional and psychological help? An appreciation of the initial and long-lasting love?
An Argentinian setting, but universal questions and themes.
Palace films Released July 4th
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.