Bossa Nova

Directed by Bruno Barreto
Starring: Amy Irving, Antônio Fagundes, Alexandre Borges, Déborah Bloch, Drica Moraes, Giovanna Antonelli, Pedro Cardoso.
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content.

Review by Matt Heffernan
June 1, 2000

Amy Irving was married to Steven Spielberg for four years, but he never directed her in a film. Their only professional contact was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, in which he produced and she performed the singing voice for Jessica Rabbit (her sexy speaking voice was, of course, Kathleen Turner). They divorced shortly after that, and now she is married to Brazilian director Bruno Barreto, who has already cast her in A Show of Force, Carried Away, and One Tough Cop. These are certainly not at the level of filmmaking associated with Spielberg, and neither is their latest collaboration.

In Bossa Nova, Irving plays Mary Ann Simpson -- an American working in Rio de Janeiro as an English teacher. She give private lessons to the likes of her friend Nadine (Drica Moraes), who is looking for love on the internet, and soccer star Acacio (Alexandre Borges), who is moving to a team in England. She also teaches at a school in an office building.

Pedro Paulo (Antônio Fagundes) is a lawyer who has recently been separated from his wife, Tania (Déborah Bloch), a travel agent who is now living with her Tai Ch'i instructor. One day, he notices Mary Ann taking the elevator to her school, so he follows her and enrolls in the class.

>From there, the plot goes into several farcical threads that occasionally converge in cases of impossible coincidence. Romantic comedies can work as a farce, but this film is too subdued to really pull it off. Endless conventions march their way into the picture, putting the audience at ease by making the film familiar even if half of the dialogue is in Portuguese. Unfortunately, this approach does nothing to inject energy into the film.

Barreto instead uses beautiful shots of Rio to keep the audience's attention. Much like I Dreamed of Africa, Bossa Nova plays like an animated postcard without any real substance. Irving and Fagundes do manage to add some charming moments, even if they are exactly like three million other charming moments you have already seen.

If you like seeing rather attractive middle-aged people falling in love in an exotic location, then you may enjoy this film. Chances are, though, that it will never reach wide distribution. Anyway, it's not worth the price of a ticket.

For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Bossa Nova (1999)

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Bossa Nova (2000) -- VHS
Bossa Nova (2000) -- DVD
Bossa Nova: Original Soundtrack -- Compact Disc Home
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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan