Adios Buenos Aires

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades


In 2001, Argentina was in bad straits. The peso was plunging. The country was facing a partial default on public debt. There were high levels of unemployment, as well as political and social turmoil. People were losing their jobs and their homes, businesses were going bankrupt, and families are falling apart.

That’s the setting for “Adios Buenos Aires,” a dramedy now playing at Tropic Cinema

Here, an Argentine of German descent, Julio Färber is trying to keep his head above water, but every month he keeps falling behind. His five-piece tango band (he plays the bandoneon) is getting fewer and fewer gigs. The shoe shop he inherited from his father is barely staying afloat. Julio is seriously thinking about immigrating to Germany with his mother and his teenage daughter, but before he can buy the tickets, the government puts a freeze on all bank accounts. Just as violent protests begin to fill the streets, Julio’s car is hit by a speeding taxicab.

Hollywood has a trope called “meet-cute.” That’s an amusing or charming first encounter between two characters in a romantic comedy.

While “Adios Buenos Aires” (2023) is not exactly a rom-com, it takes the meet-cute concept to extremes. Following the car crash, Julio falls for Mariela Martínez, the beautiful but foulmouthed cab driver who ran the red light.

Julio makes a number of attempts to recover his losses, but the lady driver has no insurance.

Yes, love happens in spite of this.

Meanwhile, we witness Julio’s love of tango music as his band “Vecinos de Pompeya” gets a new singer who cannot remember the lyrics.

Director-writer German Kral came to Munich to study, leaving behind his birthplace of Buenos Aires and his love of tango music. This film is Kral’s “emotional declaration of love for Argentina.”

Even so, the filmmaker does not ignore his country’s problems and the difficult living conditions of his two protagonists.

You can see Kral’s affections of the subject matter in his previous films – “Buenos Aires, meine Geschichte” (1998) and “Our Last Tango” (2015).

“I just love Tango. It is as simple as that,” says German Kral. “My door into the world of Tango were the lyrics. Not many people outside Buenos Aires know how beautiful, how profound, and how truthful many Tango lyrics are. Some of the Tango writers were great poets, who were able to tell in three minutes stories about life and about the realization of life’s truths.”

In “Adios Buenos Aires,” Diego Cremonesi (as Julio) makes a proper avatar for Kral. And Marina Bellati (as Mariela) makes an interesting love interest.

As one fan said, “From a visual point of view, this film is gorgeous, whilst working beautifully with classic tango, giving the themes a great wrap-up, taking classic Argentine themes, yet never overdoing it.”

The film ends on a high note. One moviegoer complained, “I do not agree with some directive choices, especially the ending, which I find too happy and inconsequential for such an event ….”

Hey, what’s wrong with a happy ending?

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