The Camera Obscura | Chicago Reader

The Camera Obscura

This muted 2008 melodrama tells the familiar story of an ugly duckling—complete with frizzy hair and glasses—whose self-confidence blooms only after she finds true love. In early 20th-century Argentina, a Jewish refugee from Russia (Mirta Bogdasarian) settles into a loveless marriage with a wealthy rural farmer; 20 years later an itinerant French photographer takes her picture, and his artistic gaze allows her to see herself anew. Cowriters Maria Victoria Menis and Alejandro Fernández Murriay borrow from Hollywood weepies Now, Voyager (1942) and The Bridges of Madison County (1995). As director, however, Menis refuses to foreground the emotions inherent in the melodramatic subject matter, and Bogdasarian lacks the charisma of Bette Davis or Meryl Streep. This is competently made but inconsequential; the period sets and costumes are ultimately more convincing than the characters inhabiting them. Menis directed. In Spanish with subtitles.

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