Sunday, March 18, 2018

A joyous, moving, surprising gift, Pablo Solarz's THE LAST SUIT enchants and delights


There's no way to know, I think, as THE LAST SUIT (El último traje) begins, and an old and infirm grandfather gets into a very funny and bizarre conversation with his favorite grand-daughter, just where in hell this movie could possibly be heading. Before long it turns into a road trip, peopled with a host of wonderful characters brought to life by a splendid cast. At heart, though, it is a family saga/memory piece, by the finale of which, you may find yourself, as did I, in a puddle of quiet tears that have been absolutely earned by every moment that has come before.

Made by Pablo Solarz (shown at left), the movie boasts a filmmaker who has had quite an interesting history so far --  from the lovely little surprise, Intimate Stories (which he wrote), to A Husband for My Wife, a script that has been made into a film three times already, in three different languages: Spanish, Italian and Korean.

With The Last Suit, which works beautifully in every one of its many aspects, and which Solarz both wrote and directed, I suspect that this relatively young filmmaker may have a hard time topping himself. If he does, TrustMovies dearly hopes he will still be around to see the result.

What makes this movie work so well is how filled it is with empathy and compassion. This is neither overdone nor all that apparent for awhile, however, because its main character, Abraham Bursztein, played by that crack Argentine actor Miguel Ángel Solá, above and below, who is so damned perfect in the role of the nasty-but-needy grandpa that, were this an American movie, he'd be an immediate shoo-in for an Oscar nomination (and probably the award itself).

If Solá alone were all the film had to offer, it might be enough, so thoroughly has the actor nailed the infirmities and obscenities of old age, rolling them into a performance that -- via its combination of wit, humor and glum reality -- keeps you at bay even as it forces you to enter and finally empathize with the life of this man.

Fortunately, Abraham either meets or is surrounded by character after character who may initially seem gruff and unpleasant (and who would not be when confronted by a guy like this?) but who, once some understanding of the man and his need kicks in, warms up and comes to his aid. This would include the young fellow (Martín Piroyansky, at left, above) unlucky enough to be seated next to Abraham on a plane,

and the hôtelière (Ángela Molina, above, left) from whom he tries to con a "reduced rate" on his hotel room. What a pleasure it is to see one of Spain's great actresses on view here -- and singing, too! Best of all maybe are two characters our not-quite-hero meets along the way who come to his aid in ways both expected and quite not.

The lovely Julia Beerhold plays a German woman of the post-WWII generation who tries with all her might to both heal and make up for the sins of the past. (See the wonderful documentary Germans & Jews for a further and deeper exploration of this.) How Ms Beerhold's character honors Abraham's wishes proves memorable indeed. His last helper, a hospital nurse played beautifully by Olga Boladz, above, is the final enabler in bringing to a close Abraham's journey.

Along that journey, memory plays a major role, and Solarz's ability to infuse his images (as above) with the same beauty and compassion he feels for all his characters is rather extraordinary. Is The Last Suit sentimental? You bet. But the sentiment here is so earned and welcome, and the tale told so filled with humor, surprise and deep feeling that the result is a road trip very much worth taking, while Mr. Solá's performance is an absolute don't-miss.

From Outsider Pictures , in Spanish with English subtitles, and running a near-perfect 86 minutes, the movie opens this Friday, March 23, here in the South Florida area. In Miami, look for it at the AMC Aventura and Tower Theater; in Palm Beach County at the Living Room Theaters, Boca Raton; the Movies of Delray and Movies of Lake Worth; and Cobb Theaters' Downtown at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens. Will thisw onderful movie play elsewhere around the country. God, I hope so. I'll try to find information on or a link to further screenings, as this becomes available.


MEET WRITER/DIRECTOR PABLO SOLARZ AT THE BELOW EVENTS 

Wed. March 21, 7:00pm 
Latin America, Jews and Historical Memory: A Panel Discussion 
The panel will look at the Jewish communities south of Miami, the differences among generations there, and the relationship between historical memory and constructing the future.
Panelists (in addition to writer/director of THE LAST SUIT Pablo Solarz) include: Valeria Cababié- Schindler, Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at Florida International University and a native of Argentina; Silvio Frydman of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, a photographer whose work has documented the March of the Living, and who was born and raised in Argentina; Miriam Klein Kassenoff, Director of Holocaust Teacher Institute, University of Miami, and Education Specialist, Miami-Dade County Public Schools;  Panel moderator is Jenni Person, Founder of the pioneering Jewish cultural organization Next@19th and Managing Producer of MDC Live Arts
 Location: MDC Live Arts Lab, 300 NE 2nd Avenue, on the ground floor of Miami Dade College Building 1, entrance at the NE 1st Avenue plaza. Parking is free in MDC Building 7 Parking Garage A at 500 NE 2nd Avenue, or for a fee in other adjacent parking garages and on the street
Thursday, March 22, 7:00pm Film Introduction and Post Screening Q&A  MDC’s Tower Theater, 1508 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135
Friday, March 23, 7:30pm Film Introduction and Post Screening Q&A Where: Movies of Delray, 7421 W Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33446
Saturday, March 24, 12:30pm & 3:00pm shows Film Introduction and Post Screening Q&As  Movies of Delray, 7421 W Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33446
Saturday, March 24, Evening shows Film Introduction and Post Screening Q&As  Living Room Theaters on FAU Campus, 777 Glades Rd, Boca Raton, FL 33431

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