Monday, November 29, 2010

Bar, El Chino

The product of grafting a fictional love story and a documentary together is likely to be an awkward one. This  2003 Argentinian film tells the story of two documentary film makers:  one, a depressed middle aged man, and the other, an ambitious, but unemployed young woman. They both have designs on making a film about a bar, El Chino, where friends have gathered for half a century to sing tango songs. It turns out that the bar actually exists in an old neighborhood and has had one, perhaps two documentary films made about it. This ficto-documentary, awkward as expected, is nonetheless charming and tinged with some wisdom about love. That it is set during one of Argentina's economic crises adds another complicating dimension to it, but also gives the tension between the lovers a certain gravity.