Bruno Barreto’s “Bossa Nova” is as appealing and gorgeous as a travel brochure for Rio de Janeiro, and just about as deep, too. It’s a movie about falling in love that can make you fall in love with … the scenery.
Rio is a gorgeous place, and the film makes it seem every bit the sunny, carefree paradise it’s often made out to be. The bossa nova soundtrack alone is enchanting. The plot and characters are breezy, too, making this a movie with very little lasting value, but one you don’t mind spending 90 minutes with.
Lawyer Pedro Paulo (Antonio Fagundes), while separated from his travel agent wife Tania (Debora Bloch), falls for Mary Ann (Amy Irving, the director’s wife), an American who has lived and taught English in Brazil since her husband died two years earlier. She’s still recovering from it all, and she is frightened of such modern things as Internet dating, which her student and friend Nadine (Drica Moraes) is doing so well at, she has a boyfriend in New York, a guy named Gary (Stephen Tobolowsky), who turns out to be a client of Pedro’s, which we find out after Nadine has visited travel agent Tania to book a flight to New York. Meanwhile, Pedro’s intern Sharon (Giovanna Antonelli) strikes the interest of his half-brother Roberto (Pedro Cardoso), while soccer superstar Acacio (Alexandre Borges) — another pupil of Mary Ann’s — also pursues her.
As you can see, the characters’ lives all intersect, and that’s half the fun. It’s not awfully original in that regard, but let’s face it, we’re all suckers for movies that exhibit cleverness in the way they assemble their storylines and characters. There’s something to be said, too, for a movie that’s not afraid to switch back and forth between English and Portuguese, depending on which language is more realistic for the scene. (I’d say the film is equally split between the two, with subtitles being provided where necessary.)
An air of comedy and mirth permeates the movie, a detriment only in one sitcom-style scene at an hospital, in which everyone is brought together so they can discover the connections they didn’t know about, and also so they can have about a million cases of mistaken identities and false impressions. Aside from that bit of contrivance, “Bossa Nova” is a well-played, utterly charming film.
B (; )