Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked (or Forgotten) Film: PLAN B (2009) starring Manuel Vignau and Lucas Ferraro

Tuesday is Overlooked (or Forgotten) Film day, a weekly meme hosted by Todd Mason at his blog, SWEET FREEDOM. Don't forget to check in and see what other overlooked or forgotten films or television shows other bloggers are talking about today. LINK.

From Argentina comes PLAN B, written and directed by Marco Berger - a sweet little unpretentious love story which caught me very much by surprise. It's in Spanish with subtitles which is just as well for even I cannot catch the rapid fire South American Spanish spoken in the film. But that's fine, I never mind reading while watching a foreign movie.

This is the story of two young men whose lives take an unexpected turn when one of them decides to tamper with fate.

Here's the plot: Bruno (Manuel Vignau), a likable slacker with all over grizzly hair and a great deal of self-confidence takes a hit when his girlfriend Laura dumps him for another guy.

Pablo (Lucas Ferraro) is the hapless, equally hairy (though ungrizzled)  'other guy' who has no clue he is shortly to become the object of revenge by the spurned Bruno. (Somehow Pablo remains unaware that Bruno is his new girlfriend's ex.)

Bruno decides  to break up the happy couple by getting Pablo interested in someone else. Bruno is sure this will be the simplest thing in the world. His feckless ex-girlfriend does come back now and then for an occasional roll in the hay (this was somewhat confusing), but hey, young people behave differently now. (But talk about mixed messages.)

Manuel Vignau as Bruno and Lucas Ferraro as Pablo.

Both Bruno and Pablo work out at the same neighborhood gym, so it's easy enough for them to strike up a conversation. At first Bruno plans to insert one of several young and easy women they know into Pablo's life but when he unexpectedly hears gossip that Pablo once had an affair with another man, the plot takes a devious turn.

The gossip is wrong but Bruno doesn't know that until late in the film. He decides that Pablo needs to be taught a lesson and sets about wooing Pablo himself though he is an avowed heterosexual. Don't ask, you hadda' be there. Somehow Bruno has reasoned that this absurd machination will eventually get Laura (Mercedes Quintero) permanently back into his grungy arms.

The two main actors, at first glance, are nothing much to write home about but as the movie progresses, they sort of grow on you. Beneath their everyday unkempt appearance lurks a certain charm, especially in Bruno's case. The perpetual gleam in his eye when he thinks he's putting one over on the world gives him a kind of insouciant devilish look that begins to work its magic before you know what's what.

These two are more like your next door neighbors than the sort of guys you normally find up on the big screen. They are not buffed, gleaming, muscular models posing for the camera and its just as well - they're actors, and pretty good ones at that. That's why the movie works.

Production-wise, PLAN B has the feel of a home movie, the shoddy, lackluster locations are not especially movie-like or even photogenic. At first the whole thing seems kind of discouraging but if you hang in there, the movie begins to reward you with its hidden depths. This is, after all, a love story, if a rather chaste one.

You know what's going to happen - right? Bruno and Pablo are going to find that fate has a trick or two up its sleeve as they, slowly but surely become attracted to each other. First as easy-going friends - finding they have many things in common. Their conversation is so much more enjoyable than the conversations with the women in their circle. They seem to be able to tell each other anything, bonding in that unique way some men have. Nothing is too embarrassing for them to laugh over as they become acutely comfortable with each other.

Eventually, Bruno's conscience begins to bother him as he realizes that he is falling for Pablo - not at all what he was expecting. I think no one is more surprised or alarmed than these two as they slowly deduce that there's an attraction between them.

What on earth is Bruno going to do? Will he confess to Pablo? Will Pablo get over the fact that he has slowly been seduced into an untenable situation? The two have slept at each other's apartments - but only as friends, the screenplay makes that very clear. There's a kind of easy physicality between them which begins to seem awkward as both Bruno and Pablo realize that a deep emotional attachment has entered the mix.

It is because of the innate bumbling charm of these two young actors that this whole improbable story works and we get an ending we all can live with. An ending that left me smiling.


  1. At least several steps forward in the often machismic atmosphere of Argentina, which is perhaps less so these decades than in decades past...

  2. I was surprised too, Todd, that this was an Argentinian film. The more remarkable thing is that the peer group shown in the film isn't really shocked or at least, pretends, not to be shocked when Bruno and Pablo 'pretend' to be gay earlier in the film as a kind of 'in' joke.

  3. I gave up on subtitles, sometimes I can only read half before the next scene, other times the lettering is to light or even RED
    letters my eye's can't take that. Some of these film people are sad, they donot know to use lettering you can read easy. The art takes over and there is the problem. They forget what's important READING

  4. Sounds like a cute film. Now I want to know what the ending is.

  5. The kids today are usually rather less uncomfortable thus, and it might be getting to be a hemispheric thing, at very least.

    Me, I hate the white subtitles, still in use as late as on such films as A FEW DAYS IN SEPTEMBER for maximum loss in the background. Yellow subtitles often work.

  6. Hi, Yvette - As I read your synopsis, it strikes me that this movie would make a great Shakespearian play - or perhaps opera.

  7. If I can't read the subtitles, Yvonne, I stop the movie and back it goes unless the language is such that I can make out what's going on without a lot too much fuss.

    I don't mind subtitles at all. I much MUCH prefer them to dubbed-in mish mash.

  8. Ryan, I did say that the ending left me smiling. HINT!

  9. As I said, Todd, I will put up with even hard to read subtitles rather than dubbing which I deplore.

    P.S. I hope very much that is a hemispheric thing.

  10. Oh, what a great idea, Mark. I think it would make a splendid comical opera.

  11. This is just the sort of movie I like. I will look for it.

  12. Patti, I can almost guarantee you will love it. Yeah, it's your kind of movie. :)

  13. I saw this several years ago. Liked it a lot. What Todd said - anything that downplays or makes fun of the Latino machismo worldview is AOK in my book. I especially liked that the actors playing these parts WERE NOT traditionally good looking men. I'm getting tired of all this emphasis on beauty and perfection.

  14. You know I saw this again recently and realized that I liked it even more than I thought I did. The actors are terrific, very affecting. I was cheering for them.


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