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Originally published Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 3:08 PM

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‘Viola’ follows a quest for real love in two overlapping worlds

“Viola,” Matías Piñeiro’s romantic comedy, gracefully blends Shakespeare and the modern world in a semi-magical quest for love’s authenticity.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review 3.5 stars

‘Viola,’ with Maria Villar, Agustina Muñoz, Esteban Bigliardi, Elisa Carricajo, Romina Paula. Written and directed by Matías Piñeiro. 65 minutes. Not rated, for mature audiences. Northwest Film Forum. In Spanish with English subtitles.

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Worlds don’t exactly collide when Viola (Maria Villar) meets William Shakespeare’s “Viola” (Agustina Muñoz) in Argentine writer-director Matías Piñeiro’s comically magical film named for those two characters.

But worlds do harmonize and overlap in such unexpected ways that no one in 31-year-old Piñeiro’s ingenious, low-key story is ever aware of mysterious forces afoot.

Not surprisingly, Shakespeare has a lot to do with this. “Viola,” the movie, opens with an actress, Sabrina (Elisa Carricajo), breaking up with a boyfriend. Sabrina stars as Olivia in a stage production of “Twelfth Night,” while Muñoz’s character, Cecilia, is the play’s Viola, a woman pretending to be a male emissary of romance on behalf of Olivia’s would-be suitor.

The complex dynamics between Sabrina and Cecilia’s roles spill offstage when the latter decides, as if in some unwritten Shakespearean comedy, to prove the newly single Sabrina can be seduced simply by telling her what she wants to hear.

In a buoyant, insightful and sexy scene, Piñeiro has the women privately, repeatedly exchanging “Twelfth Night” dialogue until those words enter an entirely different emotional context.

Suddenly, the film pivots to Villar’s Viola, an underachiever who, just like her “Twelfth Night” counterpart, is an obscure go-between for strangers and fantasies, delivering bootlegged movies to private customers. Crossing paths with Sabrina and Cecilia, Viola enters a journey merging dreams and reality in search of love’s authenticity.

It is impossible not to compare “Viola” to the great legacy of Eric Rohmer, the late filmmaker whose fascination with the confused instincts and self-deceptions of youth never ceased.

Piñeiro’s bold but graceful camera movements, exploring space with unselfconscious joy, speak to a young filmmaker’s emerging mastery.

He is someone to watch.

Tom Keogh:

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