What Happened to Santiago | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

What Happened to Santiago 

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Tommy Muniz stars in this lovely film from Puerto Rico about a recently retired, lonely widower whose life is rejuvenated when he unexpectedly falls in love with an enigmatic younger woman (Gladys Rodriguez) he meets during one of his strolls in a local park. The woman agrees to see him on the condition that he not inquire about her past or her personal life. Curious and unable to deal with the strain that this anonymity imposes on their growing relationship, Santiago hires a private investigator, who uncovers some unsettling truths about the woman's past. Much of the pleasure of this film comes from writer-director Jacobo Morales's decision to linger over and savor the quiet yet often painful moments that Santiago shares with his two grown children as they struggle to understand a relationship undertaken so late in life. Coupled with Muniz's marvelously understated performance, this makes for a film of rare emotional honesty, which manages to be both charming and romantic without resorting to the forced sentimentality Hollywood is swimming in these days. The screening tonight is part of the $25-a-head opening reception. (First Chicago Center Theater, Friday, September 27, 7:30; Three Penny, Saturday, September 28, 6:30).

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