Opening 11 May 2023
It’s November 2001 and Julio (Diego Cremonesi) is a young, single man living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has a teenaged daughter, Paula, from an earlier relationship and runs a shoe shop, inherited from his father. His main interest is playing the bandoneon (a type of accordion popular in South America) in a five-man band called Vecinos de Pompeya, whose specialty is the tango. What should be a satisfactory existence flounders in a country suffering both politically and financially and therefore, he plans to bid ADIÓS to his country and emigrate to Germany, taking along his mother Dorothea (who is of German origin), as well as Paula. It’s not surprising that abandoning one’s life for something new is a challenge, especially in Argentina, where organizing money is difficult. The banks are not dependable. His car is suddenly worth much less after being crashed into by Mariela, a taxi driver. What about leaving best friends in the band? Also, Paula wishes to stay in Argentina; she has a boyfriend: David.
The film is all about leaving, which includes falling down and standing up again. Julio’s friends say he is “looking for a problem for every solution.” Here we meet interesting characters such as other members of the band, e.g., Atilio (who disagrees and goes forward independently) and Maestro, an elderly man who is taken out of his peaceful old folks’ home to become the band’s front-line singer. There is the son of Mariela: Publito who communicates in sign language. Will the band give a special performance for the wife of Senator Ernesto? The chaos on the streets becomes deadly, all surrounded by 13 songs and 20 tango dancers who carry us along, as we observe beautiful scenes of Buenos Aires, which has a harbor quite similar to our Hamburg harbor. (Becky Tan)
In the last months of 2001 Argentina reels in crisis. Its economy is sluggish, and the locals are restless. In Buenos Aires nothing works right, including electricity in the local pub where the five-member (Manuel Vicente, Rafael Spregelburd, Carlos Portaluppi, Mario Alarcón) tango band practice and frequently perform. Julio (Diego Cremonesi), the bandoneon player works at getting better paying gigs for “Vecinos de Pompeya.” Still, he is fed up. As much as he loves his tango-playing buddies and country, his single-minded solution obsesses him – vamoose to the “promised land.” He neglects considering his teenage daughter or mother’s (Regina Lamm) feelings. When a young temperamental taxi driver crashes into his car, Mariela (Marina Bellati) complicates his plans—the car is as good as sold—and his life. Fixated on leaving, Julio overlooks the populace’s boiling frustrations with the instability until the county erupts sending Julio’s scheme spinning in a surprising direction.
Buenos Aires and music is writer-director German Kral’s niche. In Buenos Aires, meine Geschichte (1998), he travels from Germany to Buenos Aires to explore why his parents separated; his second documentary, Música cubana (2004), focuses on Cuban musicians, and Our Last Tango (2015) is about the famous Argentinian tango pair Maria Nieves Rego and Juan Carlos Copes. Adiós Buenos Aires’screenplay, co-written with Stephan Puchner and Fernando Castets, is conventional incorporating small doses of corruption, morality. The cast saves it from slipping into mundane. Production values are fine; editors Patricia Rommel and Hansjörg Weißbrich insert 2001 archival television footage. Just as there are few surprises, more tango music would have kept our toes tapping. The film suggests: “…Will be to arrive where we started. And know the place for the first time,” T.S. Elliott. (Marinell Haegelin)