VIFF 2014: Una Vida: A Fable of Music and the Mind has some cheerful vitality

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      Una Vida: A Fable of Music and the Mind (USA)  

      Portuguese actor Joaquím De Almeida brings some cheerful vitality to the otherwise enervated tale of a neuroscientist working in present-day New Orleans. He encounters a singer, called Una Vida, who has a cache of old blues tunes but is otherwise losing her mind to Alzheimer’s. Reliable supporting actor Bill Cobbs plays her guitarist and guardian and hits all the right notes. But Aunjanue Ellis, who plays the title character—a woman well past 60—is 20 years too young for the part and presented as a personality from the 1930s. The attempt to connect her sad story with the good doctor’s childhood, and the (literally) elusive butterfly of memory, is far too ham-handed for any but the most Hallmark Card–oriented viewers.

      International Village, September 30 (2:45 p.m.); Vancity, October 3 (7 p.m.) and 6 (2:30 p.m.)