Passionada

Cast
Charlie Beck Jason Isaacs
Celia Amonte Sofia Milos
Vicky Amonte Emmy Rossum
Lois Vargas Theresa Russell
Angelica Amonte Lupe Ontiveros
Daniel Vargas Seymour Cassal

Fireworks (A Can West Company) and Samuel Goldwyn present a film Directed by Dan Ireland, Produced by David Bakalar and written by Jim and Stephen Jermanok. Rating: PG-13 (for adult situations, language, some sensuality and a conversation about drugs). Running time: 108 minutes.

Central Theme
Some people deserve a second chance, other people don’t, but sooner or later everyone NEEDS one; be careful in choosing to whom you give one.

Story
PASSIONADA is a charming, funny and surprising love story set in the Portuguese-American community of New Bedford, Mass. Three generations of women are torn between their instincts and their old world traditions.

Celia Amonte (Sofia Milos) is a beautiful and charismatic woman in her mid-thirties who lost her beloved husband at sea. Despite the urging of her daughter Vicky (Emmy Rossum) and mother-in-law (Lupe Ontiveros), she continues to mourn his loss, which is the tradition in the Portuguese community. But when she sings her native fado music at a local restaurant, she feels the passion she keeps buried inside.

Celia feels that love and romance have died with the death of her husband. As a single parent she spends much of her energy trying to control her teenage daughter, who, secretly tries to fix up her mother on an Internet dating service and goes off on mysterious late night excursions to the local gambling casino. There she meets Charlie Beck (Jason Isaacs), a charming Englishman and professional gambler.

When Charlie and his friends (Teresa Russell and Seymour Cassel) show up at the restaurant where Celia is performing, he is thunderstruck by Celia’s beauty and the sensuality of the music. As Charlie pursues Celia, Vicky pursues Beck. Finally he agrees to teach her how to play black jack and count cards if she’ll help him with the courtship of her mother.

Initially Celia wants no part of Charlie, but through persistence he gradually wins her over. He makes her laugh and re-awakens her passion for life and love. But in order to get close to her he has lied about who he is and what he does. Eventually he must tell her the truth.

What a woman who is “comfortable around fish” and the traditional life of her Portuguese community and a near-do-well gambler have in common is the secret at the heart of PASSIONADA. They are both trapped in the past looking for a second chance, except they don’t know it. Once Celia accepts what she’s been missing, she can open her heart and get on with the rest of her life. PASSIONADA is one of those rare movies where a happy ending is earned, and life truly feels like something worth celebrating. ‚© Samuel Goldwyn Films.

I attended this movie hoping it would be another “Greek Wedding” sleeper and a change of pace from the super-charged, special effects stuff we’ve been bombarded with this summer. The movie is an example of a good concept and flawed execution. I learned that after mixed feedback from pre-screenings, the ending was re-shot. I like the idea of a romantic-comedy-drama but the film is uneven and needs more than a new ending.

The characters were inadequately developed, so Celia’s motivation for accepting the deceiving Charlie wasn’t strong or compelling enough. Her resistance to suitors and devotion to church shifted awkwardly to a woman who goes to bed with her suitor after one date and a dinner. The role of casino and gambling is a dicey one in America, but the conclusion implies that singing there was a step up for Celia. Did her concern about Vicky’s attraction to gambling just evaporate? This is a movie I wanted to like, but found aesthetically (visual and story-line) spotty.

The theme of second chances is an important one, but we need more substantial wrestling with how and to whom we should grant such a chance.

Beliefs num
–Life is a gamble.
–You have to take a risk on people, and that too is a gamble.
–Life and relationships are not safe.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–What are the artistic merits of this film?
–What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
–What elements in word, deed, theme or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
–What does this film tell us about who God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?
–How do you decide who you will take a chance on?

Provocative Quotes byline
–I know a little about a lot of things.
==Charlie.
–There’s not going to be fish in my future.
==Vicky rejecting the ¢â‚¬Ëœmarry a nice Portuguese fisherman’ path.
–What are you, my girlfriend? I’m your mom, you’re my daughter. Is that clear?
==Celia with Vicky.
–Only take a chance, if there’s any chance to win.
==Charlie.
–Fish. We come from generations of fish people. She’s comfortable with fish.
==Vicky about her mom to Charlie.
–You can’t predict what I’ll say, but you can predict I’ll say it.
==Vicky.
–There’s not such a thing as a safe boat.
==Celia.
–Look at me. I’m broke. DO you think I’m goiung to do that to you?
==Charlie to Vicky.
–More than anything it was the idea of people who were stuck in life, those who are left numb after a devastation happens in a relationship. The idea that love will happen again in their lives — and the opportunity for second chances seems so remote if not impossible. Here was a woman who was in the prime of her life and yet she was stuck in her memories. I related to it on a personal level because my father had left my mother when I was very young. After a few years my brother and I started plotting to get her to go out on a date. But she was so shattered by being abandoned and left with four children to bring up that she never got over it. So, this story really struck a chord for me.
==Dan Ireland on what attracted him to the story.

Posted in Movies, Staublog in August 21, 2003 by | No Comments »

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