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Elsa y Fred | Elsa + Fred

Geriatric hijinks abound
By BETSY SHERMAN  |  July 16, 2008
3.0 3.0 Stars

Set in modern-day Madrid, Marco Carnevale’s gentle romantic comedy slaps two touchstone images from Italian cinema on the screen. Elsa (China Zorilla), a flamboyant eightysomething, draws inspiration from Anita Ekberg’s fountain frolic in Federico Fellini’s La dolce vita, and she dreams of jetting to Rome to re-create it. Recent widower Alfredo (Manuel Alexandre), clutching his little dog, is Vittorio de Sica’s downtrodden Umberto D. As she, a chatty compulsive liar, teaches him, a mild-mannered hypochondriac, how to stop worrying and enjoy each day to the fullest, the story evokes a third film, Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild. The cutesy implications of geriatric high jinks notwithstanding, Elsa y Fred succeeds on the performances of its principals. Zorilla flavors the one-time Buenos Aires bombshell’s zest for life with a humanizing dash of insecurity, and the astounding Alexandre is the Tin Man who discovers he does indeed have a heart. It’s all there in the daffy smile Elsa puts on Fred’s face. Spanish | 108 Minutes | Kendall Square

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