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August 23rd, 2008 - CinemaDave

Aug. 23rd, 2008 04:51 pm "Ilsa Y Fred" features generous ensemble comedy

Last Saturday, Turner Classic Movies paid tribute to Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. For over eighty years, this comedy team has made generations of people laugh. The antics of Laurel and Hardy would not been as successful were it not for the teamwork between each actor. Stan and Ollie were generous performers with each other and it shows on the celluloid. Recently released in South Florida, **Elsa Y Fred** features two actors who work with an actor's generosity worthy of Laurel and Hardy. **Elsa Y Fred** is a Spanish language film with subtitles, yet the story is very contemporary for our South Florida Neighbors.

Fred (Manuel Alexandre) is a recent widower and hypochondriac who moves into a new apartment with his little dog. During the move, Fred's grandson witnesses a car accident involving Elsa (China Zorrilla). After threatening the grandchild in a comic way, Elsa tries to get away with her crime. The plan backfires, but Elsa is introduced to her new neighbor, Fred.

Ilsa is a talkative character and a compulsive liar. She has a picture of Anita Ekberg on her wall and Elsa claims that it is her. Ilsa is smitten by the quiet Fred and she uses her feminine wiles to seduce him.

**Ilsa Y Fred** is a lively situation comedy. The romance between Ilsa and Fred has multigenerational appeal. It is not a film about old folks having one last fling, it is a film about having a good time. In fact, people who do not like this movie might not believe in having a good time anyway.

As Fred, Manuel Alexandre is the straight man of the comedy team. When the film opens, Manuel Alexandre looks like a zombie from a George Romero Zombie movie. As the character grows, Manuel Alexandre maintains his stoic look, but his eyes reveal the adolescent thrill about being alive.

China Zorrilla must have known that Ilsa would be the role of a lifetime. The actress gives a very physical performance and manages to communicate the character’s heart and soul. Even when she is threatening Fred’s grandchild, it is done in a childlike way that reveals a sense of innocence.

Since **Rocky Balboa** was released two years ago, there have been motion pictures that have celebrated the challenges of aging. **Ilsa y Fred** is a reminder that life is for the living and that one should make the most of each and everyday. **Ilsa y Fred** is no swan song, but an entertaining flick that reminds people that fairy tales can come true if you remain young at heart.

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