The Dark Side of the Heart (1994)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Romantic Drama  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - Argentina , Canada , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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This whimsical Eliseo Subiela film has the unusual and ambitious qualities one would expect from the director of the excellent Man Facing Southeast. Yet at the same time, there's a coldness to the characters, and a slight silliness to the scenarios, that make it a disappointment -- especially coming from the director of Man Facing Southeast, a film that struck an admirable balance between the real and the surreal. The way protagonist DarĂ­o Grandinetti disposes (almost literally) of his lovers is too cruel to evoke more than queasy laughter, although the intention seems to be at least somewhat comic; his romantic quest for lovers who can literally fly too absurd to be laudable or even engaging; and his self-absorption so off-putting that it's not at all mitigated by his devotion to poetry. His running buddies in art and love are no more admirable in their shameless pursuit of sex and kicks, which seems more hedonistic than subversive. That's not to say that there aren't some good ideas at work, even if they're a little on the forced and fanciful side, such as his ongoing encounters with Death (whose repeated admonitions for Grandinetti to find a job in advertising are about as close as the film comes to trenchant seriocomedy). And there's a truly scarifying scene in which a Nina Hagen-like singer screeches some almighty bleak rock & roll to passersby. Not even the prostitutes that Grandinetti connects with arouse too much of the viewers' sympathies or curiosities, and while the directorial blurs between harsh reality and dreamlike passages (including one in which a cow assumes the voice of the main character's mother) stoke the imagination, they don't resonate with our emotions.