In portraying the comical and romantic relationship between the beautiful American
teacher and the Brazilian lawyer, how much did you draw directly from your own experience,
being married to an American actress?
A lot. Most of the linguistic gags in Bossa Nova come from my own experience with my wife
(actress Amy Irving), since she is American and I am Brazilian. One of the main
differences in our cultures, for instance, is the use of the word LOVE, as you can see in
the movie. In America this word has a less intense connotation than in a Latin Country.
People say 'I love you' at the end of a phone call, meaning 'good bye'. But for a Latin
man to say 'I love you' it's an epic thing. The word LOVE has an immense power and is very
very meaningful. It's a word that I said maybe ten times in my whole life, only when I
really meant it from the deep of my heart.
Rio de Janeiro seems to be for you the same that Manhattan is for Woody Allen ...
In a way it is really so. Bossa Nova is a sort of a love letter from me to Rio because
after 10 years of being away from it and living in America, I miss it terribly. I miss its
music, its cuisine and so many other things. The idea for Bossa Nova was sparked by two
Brazilian songs: one called Useless Landscape and another called Wave. They both describe
the difficulty of living in Rio alone, because it's almost impossible to endure it's
immense beauty if you don't have a lover to share it with.
The movie is dedicated to Antonio Carlos Jobim, author of so many magnificent songs,
and to Françoise Truffaut, but there's also a lot of touches of the cinema of Howard
Hawks and Ernst Lubitsch in it...
This film is a bit of a paradox because of all my films it is definitely the most American
one, but it's all shot in Rio and mostly spoken in Portuguese. That's because I wanted to
make a comedy set in my country but in the style of the old American comedies of the 40s
and 50s. I love those kind of films, the screwball comedies made after the War, with Cary
Grant, Gregory Peck and Jimmy Stewart. It was a special kind of cinema where the love
story was contrasted and supported by a lot of irony and sense of humour. Being a movie
called Bossa Nova I felt I had to dedicate it to Jobim, while Truffaut is my favourite
director. I say he is, because for me he is still with us, through his movies. I love his
cinema, all of it, for its infinite lightness and true romantic spirit. Truffaut was a
real romantic because he was so suspicious of it and in this attitude of his there was
such a profound irony.
Most of the comical situations in the movie are due to the clash between different
cultures and languages, and also to the misunderstandings generated by the internet...
That's my favourite part of the film: that funny relationship that goes on between the two
internet lovers, because beside being an extremely new phenomenon, it gives you a lot of
comical starting points to write funny scenes based on misunderstandings, anonymity, and
fake identities. The internet is an extraordinary medium that gives people the chance to
meet even if they live on different sides of the world, but it also allows so many
mistakes and misunderstandings that aren't always a negative thing. Actually the net can
cause disillusionment but also positive surprises. And love, for me, is often the result
of mistakes and surprises!
Do you chat on internet?
I have actually just started two months ago. It's fun but I don't have much time for it. I
use the net mostly for work purposes.
And would you look for romance in the net?
I don't know... the net is interesting and inviting but it can also be quite perverse,
because at the beginning you're totally safe, hidden behind your anonymity, nobody knows
who you really are or what you look like and you can let go of your inhibitions and feel
very free, but after a while, if you want a real relationship and not just a virtual one,
you have to actually meet the other person and that's where the problems usually start. Or
maybe not, and everything works just wonderfully. Who can say what can happen?
(June 15, 2000)