The latest in a string of award-winning foreign-made films that generally put Hollywood’s summer 2013 output to shame, Argentine writer-director Sebastian Borensztein’s warm and thoughtful Chinese Takeaway means to show what can happen when two lost and damaged souls collide. A Chinese man named Jun (Ignacio Huang) finds himself on the street in Buenos Aires equipped only with a giant language barrier and an address tattooed on his arm. Hardware store owner Roberto (Ricardo Darín) leads a regimented and intentionally isolated life, collecting absurd news stories in a scrapbook to validate his disappointment with the world. But he reluctantly takes in Jun and tries to help him find a long-lost relative. Communicating through gestures while speaking uselessly at each other in Mandarin and Spanish, the pair gradually reaches an understanding that may alter two lives in dire need of restoration.
Chinese Takeaway is more comedy than drama, but not in the broad strokes you might expect given its familiar odd-couple scenario. Though the story develops slowly, it engages from the start through restrained yet memorable work from Huang and especially Darín, who deservedly ranks among Argentina’s biggest movie stars. The result is a blast of fresh air and a summer movie built unapologetically for grown-ups.
Chinese Takeaway beings an exclusive one-week run tonight at Zeitgeist Movies. More info here.