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Elsa & Fred and Sheer Joy and Happiness

Posted May 22 2009 11:55pm

This is dedicated to VR. May you always be as alive, full of curiosity, innate vitality, and wonder - just like a child is - as you are now, inspiring all of us to emulate you.

Wanting to watch a movie on TV several nights ago, I looked at what was available, and found something I almost decided not to watch. What a loss that would have been!!!

Elsa & Fred (Spain-Argentine co-production) has to be one of the most delightful films I have seen in a long time, and although on the surface it appears to have nothing to do with Under the Tuscan Sun (Diane Ladd), there is an underlying, subjacent similarity of joy found in the ordinary, in relationship with others, in happiness gleaned by being supremely alive and interested in all things. (See also The Secret to Happiness ). Happiness is not derived from what one has but from what one does, from the experiences one gathers in one’s trunk of memories. In Spain there is a wonderful idiom to express this: que me quiten lo bailado. It means, literally, let them try to take the dances I have danced away from me. Figuratively it means that all that which I have experienced can not be taken away from me, whereas material things may disappear.

Read what these critics say about this movie:

When the retired seventy-seven years old hypochondriac widower Fred moves to an apartment in Madrid, his temperamental daughter Cuca has an incident with his next door neighbor, the elder Argentinean Elsa. Later, they meet each other and Elsa seduces Fred with her reckless behavior and view of life and they have a romance. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

A delightful comedy about the romance between two senior citizens in Madrid, this features an unforgettable, award-caliber performance from Argentinean actress China Zorrilla.

Elsa, a firebrand of a widow, is the kind of role that -- had this exquisite Spanish romance been French -- would have gone to Jeanne Moreau. But in the very capable hands of veteran Argentinean actress China Zorrilla, Elsa is a woman to be cherished by those around her and by anyone fortunate enough to see this funny, sublime romantic comedy. Elsa and Fred, a frothy yet unsentimental story of two septuagenarians who find love, sets a glorious tone that it manages to maintain throughout. Elsa lives alone in a Madrid high-rise: she's tart, acerbic and has turned exaggeration into an art form. Fred, a recent widower, has just moved down the hall from Elsa: he's meticulous, reserved and not even remotely the kind of man one would expect to create sparks with Elsa. But sparks they indeed do create, and their affair comes to life in a fresh, humorous fashion as it peels away the layers of expectations. During one particularly memorable dinner sequence, Elsa says of Fred, "He's 78 and he blushes... how could I not fall in love." But it's Elsa for whom you can't help but fall in love, thanks to the lovely portrayal by Zorrilla, and the smart, seductive writing that makes Elsa & Fred one of the most supremely enjoyable romances that feature characters over sixty-five to be released in years. -- David Bleiler

I encourage you to get this movie. I saw it in Spanish, but I understand it is available in English as well. May you enjoy it as much as I did, and may you learn more about the art of happiness by watching it.

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