Only Human


Spain-Argentina-Portugal- U.K.| 2004.English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 93 min.

A sprightly family comedy about a disastrous evening when a Jewish girl brings her Palestinian boyfriend home for the first time, Only Human combines a deftly-turned script, fine performances and a feel-good message to mostly delightful effect. TV presenter Leni (Marian Aguilera ) turns up unexpectedly at her family home with university lecturer Rafi (Guillermo Toledo). They are greeted by her caring but neurotic mother Gloria (Norma Aleandro), belly dancer sister Tania (Maria Botto) and her daughter Paula (Alba Molinero), ultra-religious younger brother David (Fernando Ramallo), and rifle-wielding senile grandfather, old soldier Dudu (Max Berliner). Rafi is trying to amuse Paula with a container of frozen soup when it falls out of the window and apparently kills a passer-by who, Rafi learns to his horror, may be Leni’s father. His problems are compounded with Leni’s upfront revelation that he is Palestinian. . . .
The ghost of Billy Wilder clearly hovers behind an agile, rapidly-paced script that is thick with farcical situations which, despite being somewhat dejà vu, are dextrously mounted and played. The performances are vibrant, especially from Argentine veteran Aleandro, who’s always dependable; Toledo, who solidifies his reputation as one of Spanish cinema’s finest young comedy actors; and energetic Botto, who adds to the general effect of a welloiled ensemble. The dark political background rarely intrudes on the general lightness, and the message—that political differences should not be allowed to stand in the way of love—may be facile, but is always worth restating.

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