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After Loss, Love Persists in the Wise ‘Sobrevivire’

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

“Sobrevivire” (“I Will Survive”) is a stirring story of love, loss and survival from Spain’s Alfonso Albacete and David Menkes and starring Emma Suarez in the kind of strong central woman’s role that is not all that common in mainstream cinema the world over.

Suarez is one of Spain’s top young stars, and this film has the breadth and the depth to sustain her wide-ranging, feisty but never overstated portrayal. Spanning three pivotal years in the life of a 30ish woman, “Sobrevivire” has a satisfying scope and substance with an appealing blend of warmth, humor and pathos with a dash of tartness.

Suarez’s Marga is a big-city office worker wary of love until handsome Roberto (Adria Collado) sweeps her off her feet. The couple eventually seal their commitment by moving into an apartment together. In an instant tragedy strikes, leaving Marga alone, pregnant and soon out of a job, and the filmmakers are forthright about what she faces.

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But persistence and luck pay off: Marga meets Rosa (Mirtha Ibarra), a good-natured, middle-aged Cuban who will care for Marga’s baby son in exchange for a place to stay, and Marga’s crummy job as a video store clerk pays off when she gets the chance to buy the business with loans, partly from friends.

Marga, a survivor who realizes that life goes on despite her loss, remains lonely and longing for love near age 30. She’s always been a sucker for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and when a man about 10 years her junior comes into her store to rent it, they sense a rapport that swiftly deepens. Juan Diego Botto’s slender Inaqui, an aspiring artist, proves good in bed and he keeps her laughing. There’s a hitch, however: Inaqui is gay.

The way this romance plays out allows Albacete and Menkes, in their third collaboration and first serious drama, to consider the complicated and sometimes seemingly contradictory workings of emotion, human nature and sexual variability. This wise, beautifully acted and well-observed film suggests that the longing for perfection and permanence can lead to a needless losing out on love. It’s not surprising that “Sobrevivire” arrives with a raft of enthusiastic reviews and film festival acclaim.

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Unrated. Times guidelines: language, complex mature themes.

‘Sobrevivire’

(‘I Will Survive’)

Emma Suarez: Marga

Juan Diego Botto :Inaqui

Mirtha Ibarra: Rosa

Rosana Pastor: Tini

A Hollywood Independents release of an Aurum/El Paso Producciones/Peliculas Freneticas co-production in association with Via Digital and with the participation of Antena 3. Directors Alfonso Albacete, David Menkes. Producer Francisco Ramos. Screenplay Alfonso Albacetes, Lucia Etxeberria, David Menkes. Cinematographer Gonzalo Fernandez-Berridi. Editor Miguel ngel Santamaria. Music Paco Ortega. Costumes Maiki Marin Isasi. Art director Wolfgang Burmann. In Spanish, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Exclusively at the Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 274-6869; and the Playhouse 7, 673 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 844-6500.

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