REVIEW Bombshell Anita Ekberg embodies spontaneity as she playfully wades through the Trevi Fountain in that classic moment from Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita (1960). Inspired by this scene, spry octogenarian Elsa (China Zorilla) has a photo of Ekberg hanging on her wall and confronts each day with the exuberance of a woman a quarter of her age. She speaks her mind and lives with reckless abandon but not necessarily wreck-less abandon: a fender-bender just outside her apartment building eventually gives her reason to pay a visit to her new neighbor Alfredo (Manuel Alexandre), a recent widower. Aside from focusing on a pair of late-in-life lovers, this Spanish romantic dramedy rarely veers from the expected: Elsa inevitably encourages cautious Alfredo (or "Fred") to make the decision to truly live. Still, you'd be hard pressed to find anything quite as adorable as Elsa and Fred. Whether they're kissing sweetly or pulling a dine-and-ditch at a swanky restaurant, these elderly lovebirds are an irresistible pair. Both actors deliver delightful performances, but Zorilla in particular is a much appreciated treat as Elsa, breathing life into some of the film's flatter moments. Director Marcos Carnevale's recreation of the Trevi Fountain scene is beautiful and heartwarming.
ELSA AND FRED opens Fri/18 in Bay Area theaters.
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