All In (La suerte en tus manos) – Tribeca Film Festival Movie Review

Many stabs at a charming and funny rom-com do not add up to one coherent film. Accomplished director Daniel Burman should have known better.

Directed by Daniel Burman, written by Daniel Burman and Sergio Dubcovsky in Argentina, “All In” had its international premier at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April of 2012. Filmed the hip Federal District of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the slick mis-en-scene of this film fails to make up for the mish-mash of a plot. Yes, it is a romantic comedy and the two leads Valeria Bertuccelli as Gloria and Jorge Drexler as Uriel are as romantic as it gets. At least if one considers an airbrushed nude romantic.

Uriel is a professional poker player who plays with the roughest and toughest of them and does nothing but rake in the chips. That is, when he is not breezing into his CEO position to make a few weighty decisions regarding international finance before reverting to online poker to cool off from the tensions of the day.

Actually, the tensions of the day seem to be mostly made up by Uriel, himself. He has a lot of self-doubt. It is sort of self-indulgent self-doubt, unfortunately, and this cuts the legs out from under his vulnerability. The sexiness remains, but the vulnerability is thinned by his seemingly effortless success in what he does.

Uriel is played by Jorge Drexler, an incredible crooner. He took home the Oscar winner for his song “Al Otro Lado Del Rio” from “The Mortorcycle Diaries” in 2004. This is his acting debut and it is not a bad place to start out. He was likely to be nervous and the character of Uriel is a nervous man. Not unlike a vaguely neurotic Woody Allen placed in a hyper-swinging South American singles scene.

On the down side, his part is well crafted to his acting skills, which are minimal. He simply goes through the motions, almost as if he were reading the script along with the audience and asking, “Is this all right?” all along the way.

Uriel’s big problem is that he beds too many women and is afraid of having more children. He already has two of the little darlings who do their share to bore the life out of anybody watching the film. It is in all of our best interests that he should bear no more. As a result, there is an interlude in the beginning of the film in which Uriel discusses a vasectomy with his doctor. Simply stated, there is too much of this quasi-trendy-sexy talk in the film and not enough believable personal interaction. The plot twists are contrived to mind-meld with the latest tabloid headlines.

His other problem is that he is living two lives. He feels the need to cover up his real profession as a man of considerable talent and discipline in the finance field. OK, he may be a usurer and a fixer, but we are not told that. Why not tell the audience what Uriel really does and then work with why he is running away? It seems as if the director and screenwriter missed their chance here, and elsewhere in the film.

Choosing to concentrate on the lighthearted rom-com aspects of the story and missing a back-story that could have added much-needed weight. Similarly, the potentially fascination issue of a Jewish moneylender in Argentina, itself, could have spawned an entire screenplay. But that was not to be.

Uriel must continue with the guise of being a professional gambler and/or rock band promoter and come with sit-com ploys of convincing Gloria he is a shallow nothing, instead of a very talented man with a small secret. In the end, he reunites his former high school friend’s band and gives his son a much sought after chance to be in the spotlight.

The first part of the film is about Uriel’s coping with his excessive woman supply and the last half is about his coping with his former flame, high-fashion-model-perfect Bertuccelli who apparently is infatuated with him. They were together, and then had a tragic break-up that might have had something to do with trust issues.

Valeria Bertuccelli is hamstrung by the part of the vision/angel Gloria. She is required to go through these anachronistic motions of some 1970’s model/actress wanna-be, a dream in the grounded, worldly and rich Uriel’s life. An actress with a couple dozen awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Argentina and the Argentinean Film Critics can do much better than that.

This is unclear. In fact, a lot of the plot of this film is unclear, or irrational. It is hard to say if this is intentional, being playfully insouciant, or comes from a simple lack of clarity in the screenplay. When you watch the film, do not dwell on the parts that are hard to understand. Go with the flow.

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Directed by: Daniel Burman
Written by: Daniel Burman and Sergio Dubcovsky
Starring: Valeria Bertuccelli, Norma Aleandro and Jorge Drexler
Release Date: NA—Tribeca Film Festival
MPAA: Not Rated
Running Time: 110 Minutes
Country: Argentina / Spain
Language: Spanish w/sub-titles
Color: Color