Ariel Back to Buenos Aires Review. By Simon Thompson
Alison Murray’s Ariel Back to Buenos Aires is a Pedro Almodóvar- like tale which balances being a family drama alongside being a love-letter to the city of Buenos Aires itself. The plot sees two siblings named Dave (Raphael Grosz Harvey) and Diana (Cristina Rosata) returning to Argentina (their country of origin before moving to Canada) to find out about their family history and whether Dave was adopted or not. Along the way Diana becomes obsessed with learning to tango, as a method of escaping her miserable life and relationship back home in Canada, while Dave drinks himself into oblivion over his existential worries of not fitting in.
I would charitably describe the narrative of Ariel Back to Buenos Aires as a bit of a mess: the script struggles to balance both the family history plot with the tango one and although I see what Murray is trying to do with its inclusion it still serves as a slightly jarring distraction from the main narrative. What Murray has done here is present two perfectly good plots that could be entire movies on their own and tried to combine them to the overall detriment of this movie’s pacing.
Visually, however, Ariel Back to Buenos Aires is absolutely stunning. Murray, alongside cinematographers Mat Barkley, Sergio Pinyero, and Rodrigo Pulperio really brings out the lush colours, the puppet shows, sounds, and architecture of Buenos Aires making the city feel like a character itself. If this movie doesn’t make you want to book a trip there instantly, clearly you need your eyes tested, because Murray and her assistants do such a good job capturing Buenos Aires it almost feels as if they’ve directed an exceptional tourism commercial.
The acting in this movie is what I would call fairly solid: Cristiana Rosato and Raphael Grosz Harvey play off each other well and are believable as siblings, both in their bickering but also affection for one another. Their character development does feel rushed however, once again as a direct result of Murray’s attempt at combining two diverging plots. Aspects of their personalities/character arcs which could be plot-points in themselves are brought up and then either resolved far too quickly or just abandoned on the scrap pile, which is a shame because both the characters and the actors playing them are charismatic and watchable, especially as the movie progresses and the two come to find out more and more about their family history.
To conclude, Ariel Back to Buenos Aires is a well-directed and acted but poorly structured family drama. It does however have a lot to offer in terms of insight into Argentinian cultural history so if you’re willing to overlook its flawed narrative and a few pacing issues you’ll come out all the better informed about one of the more fascinating of the countries and cultures in South America.
We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.