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Cleopatra (2003) Review


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As Cleopatra, a retired Buenos Aires school teacher who is struggling to get by after her husband's layoff, and whose children long ago moved away, actress Norma Aleandro has a real screen presence. Her character is meant to be one who impacts those around her, and in Aleandro you can see it: She has a way of drinking in what others tell her, her bright eyes pondering their words with a bird-like stare, and she has a long, beaky nose. When she speaks, she flutters her hands or clutches at nonexistent pearls, and there's a swing in her walk that recalls nothing so much as a pigeon. Her openness to life is telegraphed in her reactions. In one scene she's taken with a song she hears on the radio while driving; when the man singing it says that his journey of self-discovery has revealed that there's a woman inside him, "and it's me," she blinks in surprise, considers this revelation, and then continues with her appreciation.

Aleandro is at the heart of the 2003 Argentinean film Cleopatra, and her quirky charm carries the film. The story follows her adventures after a chance encounter puts her in the company of a much younger and very beautiful television star named Sandra (Natalia Oreiro); Sandra is fed up with her producer/boyfriend, who's more obsessed with Sandra's career than with Sandra herself, and Cleo is fed up with her husband, who's given up on life following the loss of his job. Together the two embark on their own journey of self-discovery, taking off into the Argentinean hinterlands without notice and without a plan.

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