When it comes to the arts, and film in particular, it's easy to believe there's nothing new under the sun. At first, Chinese Take-Away seems to confirm that suspicion. It's the story of Roberto (Ricardo Darín), an ornery misanthrope with a tragic past. (Stereotype? Check.) Of course there's a woman, Mari (Muriel Santa Ana), who sees through his abrasive exterior to his true self. (Check.) But Roberto won't let Mari into his life. (Check.) The arrival of Jun (Ignacio Huang), a Chinese man who speaks no Spanish, changes everything. What begins as a ride to Jun's uncle's home out of civic duty turns into a weeklong residency, as Roberto begrudgingly lets Jun crash at his place, puts him to work at home and in his hardware store, and hesitantly brings him to social engagements that Roberto would rather not attend in the first place. Between Darín's portrayal of weary frustration and Huang's pitch-perfect facial expressions, the plot is peppered with darkly comic moments. Odd-couple stories such as this one traditionally end with an expected, heartwarming revelation on the part of the curmudgeon, and this film is no exception. But what's exceptional about Chinese Take-Away is the way director Sebastián Borensztein arranges all of the clichés into a genuinely touching story that, with its themes of cultural conflict and language barriers, should resonate deeply with Miami audiences. As the film ends, you know exactly what's coming — and you can't wait to see it happen.
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