Passionada

2003, Movie, PG-13, 108 mins

Review

PASSIONADA
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Worlds collide in this romantic comedy set within the Portuguese fishing community of New Bedford, Mass. Though still young and beautiful, Celia Amonte (Sofia Milos), who lost her beloved husband at sea years earlier, has resigned herself to a lifetime of widowhood like her mother-in-law, Angelica (Lupe Ontiveros). But Celia's college-age daughter, Vicky (Emmy Rossum), has other plans. Vicky learns that professional gambler Charles Beck (Jason Isaacs), who's just blown into town to stay with wealthy friends (Seymour Cassel, Theresa Russell) and try his luck at the local casino, was entranced when he heard Celia singing traditional Portuguese fado songs at a local restaurant. The restless Vicky, as it happens, sees gambling as a possible way out of New Bedford and is interested in learning the finer points of card counting. So she strikes a deal: If Charles will teach her about cards, she'll help him get a date with her romance-shy mom. Naturally, Charles must pretend to be someone entirely other than who he is: The hard-working, family-oriented Celia would never give the time of day to a feckless gambler who lives in motels, has been barred from casinos from Sun City to Las Vegas and gets by on the kindness of well-heeled friends. So he reinvents himself as a wealthy entrepreneur who wants to build a fish-processing plant in New Bedford, and soon a genuine romance is in full swing. The question is what will happen when the lies are discovered, as they inevitably will be. Scripted by travel-writer Stephen Jermanok and directed by Dan Ireland, this slight and pleasantly predictable film coasts along on the considerable charms of its cast and exotic setting. New Bedford's Portuguese community is a piece of Europe in the middle of New England, and Ireland and his cinematographer, Claudio Rocha, make it seem well-nigh irresistible. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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