Cinema Signal:

Losers and Keepers in Argentina:
A Work of Fiction
(Jewish Latin America)

. "Lost Embrace"

Ariel Makaroff (Daniel Hendler) has grown into a man in his upper twenties among the small stores and businesses of a seedy mall in Buenos Aires where Sonia, his Jewish mother (Adriana Aizemberg) sells lingerie. But it's something missing in his sense of family that keeps Ariel off balance and in search of the reason why his father Elias (Jorge D'Elia) left his family for Israel years before, never to return. He doesn't expect to ever be able to understand or forgive that... until he learns the reason.

In his rambling trips through the multicultural environment, shopkeepers and other characters express frustrations, plans, unrealized dreams and the usual philosophizing and points of view that make up a melting pot of cultures. As he tries to find something meaningful to him (and, maybe, to us?), we meet Ariel's brother, his friends and former girlfriend -- a lady he regrets having left after a 10 year relationship that was all good. Why he cut it off, he grapples with, as we, the audience, grapple with his dry search for self-identity.

Until, that is, when the inevitable develops in the form of his father's reappearance. It brings up deep emotions in both men, especially difficult ones for Ariel to deal with. It's then that he has a long talk with Mom and learns what he never knew and that there is a possibility of reunion. Mom, something of a firebrand, also provides the occasional burst of sardonic amusement, such as when she offers her son a kitchen knife so that he may put her out of her misery. "I'm not going to slit your throat with a lekach knife," Ariel insists.

Director Daniel Burman and co-writer Marcelo Birmajer seem to think that endless dialogue with dramatic simmerings on the back burner amount to emotional connection. For me, I kept wondering what I was doing here with a guy who, while attractive enough with a wry disposition and some ironic humor, couldn't expand his rambling role of the self-absorbed and meditative into a more universally identifiable journey. But, that's just me. "Lost Embrace" has caught on at the Berlin and other film festivals, indicating a rich potential for arthouse fans.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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Daniel Hendler as Ariel
A man in search of something missing in his life.

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