Happiness is a toy goy

Eduardo Mignona’s Sol de otoño will appeal to romantics but is not as thirst quenching as Whisky


Autumn Sun
Eduardo Mignona
1996 (Spanish, English subtitles), V.C.C
110 minutes

Reviewed by Georgina Jiménez

LATAMROB rating: **

AS HER BROTHER is about to arrive in Argentina from another country, a successful spinster, Clara Goldstein (Norma Aleandro), whose only evident flaw is not having had a husband yet, places the following advert in a newspaper: Jewish woman, 55, seeks to contact gentleman of average height, between 55 and 60 years old, unattached, of defined financial position, of gentle temperament but firm, cultured, neat, of clean morals, who may be feeling lonely, for friendship …

A reply comes from Raúl Ferraro (Federico Luppi) a charming, old fashioned guy, whose only defect is pretending badly to be Jewish.

Having been mugged earlier in the day, Clara is rattled and, at an initial meeting, she seems extremely angry at Raúl’s attempt to fit the bill.

But as she does not receive any more replies (to know why, one just has to read the advert!), the kind-mannered phoney she rejected earlier will have to do. Clara will need to give him a crash course to pass as a true Jewish gentleman, filling him in on all the basics he would have learned almost from birth.

In lying to her brother about her own self, and in effort to teach and learn what it is to be Jewish, Clara and Raúl strike up a friendship, and later fall in love. Both are clearly lonely and somehow vulnerable, so despite their different upbringings they are made for each other. They soon realise they cannot live without each another and later enjoy sex.

Because of Clara’s first impression of Raúl – and even her own prejudices – she remains convinced that he lies constantly, and hypocritically calls the relationship off when her brother cancels his trip.

Cultural issue

But looking back into her own deceitful past of failed love makes her realise that her beloved’s apparent deception is nothing more than secrecy about his ailing health, so she returns to live happily ever after. Even when the plot is sweet and the tone serious, as a parable of marriage seen as an opportunity to grow in kindness, wisdom and love, this tale results as unbelievable, not least because of the cultural issue.

The film does not show whether Clara decides to live as a gentile with Raúl or if he will ever fit fully into her life even though she appears to be liberated and self-sufficient enough to enter a relationship away from whatever is expected by her family.

The beautiful cinematography and sharp acting of this film is lost in a story that at times is so long and slow that one wishes for Luppi to suddenly be transformed into a vampire through the Cronos device!

For those into exploring relationships between Jews and gentiles in the southern cone, there is also a more frank and entertaining film from Uruguay, with the added variable that the gentile is accepted for what she is (Whisky). If you are a born romantic, you will enjoy this movie – if not, stay clear.

Autumn Sun was awarded the Argentine Film Critics Awards 1997, the Silver Condor for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Director Eduardo Mignogna, Best Film and was nominated for the Silver Condor for Best Music, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress. In Spain it won the Goya Award for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film, and Eduardo Mignogna was awarded an Honourable Mention at the Oslo Films from the South Festival 1997. He also won the OCIC Award and was nominated for the Golden Seashell at the San Sebastián International Film Festival 1996 and Silver Seashell for Best Actress.

Georgina Jiménez is a freelance Mexican writer