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Hernán Rosselli's Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed

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Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed | 2024 Cannes Film Festival Review

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed | 2024 Cannes Film Festival Review

Other People’s Money: Rosselli Finds Being Criminal is Relative

Hernán Rosselli Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed Movie ReviewIn keeping with a growing tradition of contemporary Argentinian cinema’s unorthodox narrative structures, editor Hernán Rosselli adds to this offbeat wave with his sophomore narrative feature, Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed (Algo viejo, algo nuevo, algo prestado). Hardly as wistful as the traditional wedding rhyme regarding a bride’s ensemble as the title suggests, Rosselli returns to similar themes as his 2014 debut, Mauro, in which a man works on distributing counterfeit bills on the street. This time around, Rosselli focuses on a family who runs an underground sports betting operation from their home, faced with an uncertain future following the death of their father and impending shakedowns by law enforcement. The strange intimacies of this scenario are heightened by Rosselli’s blending of found footage from the familial archives with their current stresses and strains.

Living on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, the Felpeto clan sees trouble on their horizon. For decades they’ve run an underground lottery business out of their living room, with a local administrative office utilized for laundering. Maribel’s (Maribel Felpeto) father was the head of the business until his recent death, now lorded over by her mother Alejandra (Alejandra Canepa). Some of their colleagues, other lotto bankers, have recently been raided, and Alejandra is doing her best to find out when officials are scheduled to do the same with her family. Meanwhile, Maribel must hack into her father’s laptop in order to find if he’s funneled any money into places they don’t know about while also destroying records which could harm the family if seized. As the family purges and prepares, Maribel narrates her family’s history over home movies from decades past.

Hernán Rosselli's Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed

The strange interludes from the Felpetos’ family archives adds a surprising dimension of dread, as their crumbling empire of illegal wealth is not only intertwined with the fiber of their identities, but also heightens the devastation of the transition they’re facing. Maribel is more or less the heroine of the narrative, whose final moments of the film suggest she’s carrying on the family’s seed, the last vestiges of their legacy tied inextricably to her. But more interesting is Alejandra, the matriarch who has been running the show since the death of her husband. In her youth, Rosselli paints her as a beautiful femme fatale in the grainy footage. While her looks have faded, she’s adopted a quiet but firm personality, leading to one of the calmest confrontations one might expect as she dictates control of her ‘territory’ to the revolving door of encroaching competition.

Hernán Rosselli's Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed

In several ways, Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed might feel familiar, blending, as it does, a variety of tones and elements, ultimately favoring its personal elements rather than sensational neo-noir flourishes in the background. The Felpetos are an amusing group of characters, but Rosselli steers clear of any real highs or lows, and thus the exposed secrets and ultimately logical solution to their woes feels like an inevitability. Compared to other recent conspicuous offerings, such as The Delinquents (2023) or more experimentally inclined Argentinean fare such as Trenque Lauquen (2022) or La Flor (2018), Rosselli’s playfulness with form arguably pales in comparison. But its beauty exists in the periphery, like small flowers growing through this cracked sidewalk of a family. Like Maribel’s early narration over their family videos referencing a saying credited to her grandmother – “Never retrace your steps. Your feet might burn.”

Reviewed on May 16th at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival – Directors’ Fortnight. 100 Mins.

★★★/☆☆☆☆☆

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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