Adriatico My Love (2011) **1/2
Dir. Nikola Curcin
Starring: Valerie Buhagiar, Dorian Kolinas, Kristijan Ugrina, Svetozar Cvetkovic, Simon Richards, Manca Dorrer
Review By Greg Klymkiw
Mom (Valerie Buhagiar) hosts a cable food show that's in the doldrums. Her relationship with her mopey twenty-something daughter (Dorian Kolinas) is also in a funk. Mom's solution for both is a trip to Croatia.
Well, it's not just any old Croatia - we're talking the Dalmatian region on the island of Hvar in the ancient fairy tale city on the sea, Stari Grad. There will be scenery galore. There will be to-die-for food. There will be sunbathing. There will be bikinis. There will be swarthy men.
Okay. Sounds good to me. Especially the bikinis and hunky Croats.
Mom figures she can save her show with some exotic footage in this breathtaking locale and light a flame under the butt of her relationship with her only progeny. Besides, she's of Croat heritage and owns a house there bequeathed by her long-dead grandparents. Mom hasn't been to Croatia since she was 17 years old - the same year she gave birth to her daughter.
Yup, Mom's got a secret. We know this because of the sepia-toned flashback shots of a swarthy Croat. During the film's mercifully short running time we get virtually no conflict as Mom and her daughter bond like never before, shoot great footage for the show and meet swarthy Croatian men.
And that, pretty much, is that.
There is, however, gratuitous scenery, gratuitous bikinis and gratuitous romance with Croatian hunks.
And, of course, for the fellas, there's some fairly decent MILF and DILF representation via the two leads.
So, let's get something straight. Adriatico My Love is not an especially good movie and at times, it feels barely competent. It is, however, a mildly watchable "chick flick" that might actually have had some commercial appeal if it had been made by a studio with huge stars (imagine the aforementioned with Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway). In fact, it's not as if the wretched script would have actually been any better (or worse, for that matter) than most scripts are for big Hollywood "chick flicks". The remake rights on this movie are begging to be sold. Someone needs to get on this pronto.
And you know, I can actually imagine my Mother enjoying this ragged little Canadian movie. She wouldn't go to see it at a movie theatre, but if she happened to be channel hopping in front of her TV at home and landed upon it, she'd stay tuned to the end and feel reasonably satisfied. (And being a nice Ukrainian lady from North End Winnipeg, she'd especially enjoy the traditional Dalmatian choral music on the soundtrack.)
The movie has all the trimmings for those in an undiscriminating mood for light entertainment. The female leads are both genuinely pleasing, the men are pretty damned gorgeous and the scenery (topographically and on the bikini-and-hunk-front) is first-rate.
And while this is faint praise, I've actually seen far worse than this. Yes, the script is inconsequential and even occasionally moronic and the movie has been edited with a rusty razor blade - replete with horrendous smash cuts and sloppily structured cross cutting, but most audiences won't be bothered by any of that - at least not the target audience (my mother and any other lady of pretty much any age looking to kill some time on the idiot box).
Veteran Canadian actress Buhagiar proves again that she's got oodles of talent and terrific screen presence and one wonders why she isn't on the big screen more than she is. Kolinas is a very promising new discovery and the local Croatian actors all acquit themselves nicely. The only embarrassingly awful performance comes from the poor fellow playing Buhagiar's money man producer, though it's possible the writing for his character was just so dreadful that no actor could rise above it.
By rights, I should have hated the picture.
But like I said earlier, I've seen lots worse.
"Adriatico My Love" is in limited theatrical release from Kinosmith and currently playing at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto. It will, no doubt, be on TV real soon."
Curiously, when I was trying to find a proper credit list for the film online, I came across this curious item. Looks like there was a happy ending to the filmmaker's search: