Review by Ebert and Roeper
August 16, 2003
Transcript by Teri Screencaps by Char
Roeper: Passionada, which could have been called "My Big Fat Portuguese Romance". This is an uplifting little gem, set in a New England community where everyone is always waving at each other from fishing boats, or calling each other by first names in a grocery store. Veteran actor Seymour Cassell plays old crooks as well as anyone, but here he plays a retired old crook living the easy life with gal pal Theresa Russell. Jason Isaacs is a professional gambler and all around bounder.
(scene in the diner)
Charlie falls hard for an old fashioned widow named Celia played by Sofia Milos,
who sings in a local night club when she's not struggling to reign in her free-spirited daughter, or doing battle with her old world mother in law. There's wall to wall Portuguese music in Passionada and one of the best sequences is when everybody shows up at the festival and dances.
(scene at the festival)
(He points out Mother in Law Lupe) who still worships her son's memory, but has some surprising insight and advice for Celia.
(spoiler scene with her and Celia)
Passionada has some loose ends. Charlie teaches the daughter to count cards, but that story line doesn't really reach a conclusion, and the daughter's romance with a local fisherman takes place almost entirely off-screen. And there were a couple of dialog readings that were a little flat for the emotions involved.
But director Dan Ireland gives us a lovely view of Portuguese culture. And Isaacs expertly straddles the line between conniving cad and potential good guy. And Sofia Milos and Amy Rossum look and feel like mother and daughter. A marginal, but affectionate thumbs up.
Ebert: I have a lot of affection for it too, and what's not to like. These are nice people who are in a situation that's a little bit colorful, but also a little bit realistic. And the way that the widow is loyal to her dead husband, but gradually lets her defenses be beat down by this guy, only to find out that he's not everything he seems. It's very involving. It's a very nice movie.
Roeper: And I really loved the music. So many movies just pound us with soundtrack, or they drop in some pop hits. Here music is really a part of their lives and we come to get into the music and it helps us get into the characters.
(scene with Celia singing at the end--Jason's lovely gaze of adoration)
Ebert: When she singing in a night club, it really works dramatically.
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