ALL IN (LA SUERTE EN TUS MANOS (unrated) * * *
Singer-songwriter Jorge Drexler ( The Motorcycle Diaries) makes an auspicious acting debut in this winning romantic comedy from Argentine director Daniel Burman ( Lost Embrace). Ostensibly a lighthearted tale of a commitment-phobic poker player reconnecting with a former flame, the film reveals unexpected layers as it delves into its lead characters’ baggage-heavy pathology with far more nuance than its narrative would suggest.
A compulsive liar in his 40s who keeps an emotional distance from friends and loved ones alike, divorced financier Uriel Cohan (Drexler) has allowed his talent at cards and anonymous motel sex take top priority in his life. (The film’s jagged editing captures Uriel’s jumpy personality.) At the end of the day, though, he still yearns for Gloria (Valeria Bertuccelli), the girl he dated in his 20s who abruptly gave him the boot. A chance to rekindle the relationship materializes when he runs into his ex, who has returned from Europe to settle her late father’s estate. Gloria, however, is struggling with her own issues, neatly encapsulated in her testy relationship with her mother Susan (Oscar winner Norma Aleandro), a literary radio host.
Even though Burman follows some of the genre’s familiar story beats, the way Uriel and Gloria’s courtship plays out appropriates the rhythms of everyday life. Drexler does a commendable job of balancing Uriel’s insecurities with a genuine desire to self-actualize, and Burman’s direction turns potentially superficial subject matter into a profound, keenly observed character study without sacrificing the film’s scrappy, easygoing charm.
Cast: Jorge Drexler, Valeria Bertuccelli, Norma Aleandro. Director: Daniel Burman. Screenwriters: Burman, Sergio Dubcovsky. Running time: 110 minutes. Vulgar language, sexual situations, suggestive dialogue, adult themes. In Spanish with English subtitles. Plays at 8 p.m. Oct. 26 at Muvico Pompano 18, 5:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at Sunrise Civic Theater and 4 p.m. Oct. 28 at Cinema Paradiso as part of FLIFF.