In a world of cliché movie love stories, along comes Corazón de León, a hilarious and unusual love story about a woman trying to overcome a world of prejudice and fear.
Ivana is a successful, incredibly beautiful lawyer. One day Ivana loses her cellphone and receives a phone call from the man who says has found it. They have a fun, flirty conversation. Ivana is intrigued and agrees to meet the man to retrieve her phone. What comes next surprises Ivana as much as the audience: León, the man who found the phone, is 4’5″ tall. Ivana is stunned, trying to match her anticipation for the man on the phone with the man standing in front of her. It doesn’t take too long: León is striking in his confidence, charm and worldliness. He invites her on an adventure, starting immediately, he says. She hesitates, but of course, she accepts. I won’t reveal what happens next, but I can say that it’s a magnificently directed scene of total release, both for Ivana and for the audience. At the end of it, we are in love. Ivana is most definitely as well.
Corazón de León, a smash box-office hit from Argentina, explores the difficult subject matter with gusto and intelligent humor. Still, the movie doesn’t refrain from throwing in recurrent visual gags, which are never mean but perfectly balanced with witty, pitch perfect dialogues. Julieta Díaz’ performance as Ivana is truly magnificent, as we see her struggle with the attraction she feels for León and her own, and other people’s perceptions and expectations of physical beauty and ultimately, masculinity. Most surprising is the reaction of those around Ivana-in particular her ex-husband-who seem to feel Ivana is enacting some kind of revenge on them by dating León.
Written and directed by Marcos Carnevale, Corazón de León moves from exhilaration and hilariousness to introspection and heartfelt emotion without missing a beat, and we really get to feel the depth of their love story. It teaches us, not by preaching, but by showing us (thanks in great part to Guillermo Francella’s performance as León), that true love has no barriers, of size or otherwise.
If you are in Vancouver, you can catch Corazón de León and other great movies from Latin America at the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival (VLAFF), August 28th-September 7th. Check out all the info here.