Romance (Unrated) ***

 

Real life imitates play about love and suffering.

Romance
Lovers are torn apart in Romance.
 

By Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald

''In romantic tales, loving equals suffering,'' theater director Pedro (Wagner Moura), tells Ana (Letícia Sabatella), an actress auditioning for his production of Tristan and Isolde. Ana lands the part of Isolde -- and the heart of her director, who has cast himself as Tristan.

Rehearsing the play allows the couple to explore its themes first-hand, particularly the spontaneity of love and its accompanying pain. The deeper they delve into the work, the deeper in love they emerge.

''I am afraid of all this happiness,'' Ana says, only half-seriously.

''Sometimes I think loving you so much is not a good idea,'' Pedro warns, except he really means his words. Eventually, fate -- in the form of a recurring role on a telenovela that makes Ana a star -- tears the lovers apart, as you always figured it would. Pedro and Ana seemed much too happy for their bliss to last.

And then Romance really gets started. Director Guel Arraes, who wrote the script with Jorge Furtado, uses a behind-the-scenes look at the Brazilian TV industry as a backdrop to explore the nature of relationships and the incandescent power of love which, the movie argues, can cool with time but never completely dies.

Throwing Ana's agent (Andrea Beltrao) and an aspiring actor (Vladimir Brichta) into the mix, Romance weaves a satisfyingly tangled tale that reunites the central lovers three years after they separate. Collaborating on another Tristan and Isolde -- this one bankrolled by a big-shot TV producer who insists on a happy ending -- Pedro and Ana discover old passions die hard. Director Arraes even pulls off the unlikely feat of giving his star-crossed lovers a happy ending. Romance is hopeful and upbeat enough to make even the staunchest cynics swoon.

Cast: Wagner Moura, Letícia Sabatella, Andrea Beltrao, Vladimir Brichta.

Director: Guel Arraes.

Screenwriters: Guel Arraes, Jorge Furtado.

Producer: Paula Lavigne.

In Portuguese with English subtitles. 102 minutes. Vulgar language, brief nudity, sexual situations, adult themes. Plays at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Colony Theater.

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