By contributing blogger Benjamín Harguindey
There are two fatal flaws to León’s Heart (Corazón de león, 2013). The first is more than evident: here’s a movie about not discriminating, whose sole source of comedy is discriminating its dwarfish protagonist with off-key camera angles and sight gags. The second flaw is that this here is a romantic comedy in which only one person has to leap through emotional hoops to make the relationship work while the other retains the moral superiority throughout the whole film.
The unmovable moral ground is held by León, the eponymous, dwarfish protagonist, played by regular-sized sitcom star Guillermo Francella via blue-screen trickery, stunt doubles and clever framing. He’s a successful, charming, witty and obscenely rich architect who blind dates his way into Ivana’s life, a bourgeois lawyer played by Julieta Díaz. She is, of course, romantically prejudiced against physical “conditions”, and as the movie goes to show, she can only overlook them when they’re balanced out by perfection – of which León provides plenty. He also has a son, played by Francella’s real-life son Nicolás in his film debut and already showing some of his father’s charisma but none of his thespian flair.
If you can get past the hypocritical humor and the ideological faux pas, León’s Heart is moderately entertaining, leaning heavily on the main duo’s performance. Francella imbues his character with just a shade of his pathetic TV persona while Díaz has the difficult task of playing an audience surrogate in a movie about discrimination while remaining likeable all along. There’s some witty banter going on as well, though the physical gags are there to upstage it and often have little relevance to the plot (consider the overdrawn scene in which León hangs dangerously from a cupboard, for far too long and no real reason).
León’s Heart is a well-meaning and harmless rom-com overall. It’s directed by Marcos Carnevale, versed on formula filmmaking since Elsa y Fred (2005), and backed by local producer Telefé . Anybody going to watch it is there to see Francella, Argentina’s most popular actor next to Ricardo Darín, reduced to dwarfism by movie magic. That’s the hook, and they’ll get exactly that. It premiered August 15th and it has already grossed over $14 million at the box office with approximately 400,000 spectators in attendance.