Dir: Daniel Burman. Argentina/Spain. 2001. 98mins.

A brooding, fatalistic romance, faintly reminiscent of Julio Medem's Lovers Of The Arctic Circle or Vincent Ward's A Map Of The Human Heart in mood, Every Stewardess Goes To Heaven establishes third-time director Daniel Burman as a talent to watch. Burman's first two films, A Chrysanthemum Bursts In Cincoesquinas and Waiting For The Messiah, have already attracted attention on the festival circuit. The new movie, pre-sold in Latin America and Japan, was picked up at the Berlin film festival for Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Asia. Though a little slow and insubstantial, this immaculately crafted piece confirms the current range and vibrancy - despite difficult conditions - of the new Argentine cinema and should have no trouble securing landing slots in further international destinations.

Teresa (Rubio), a sad, solitary, beautiful flight attendant for an Argentinian airline, lives with her head in the clouds. Pregnant, but neither seeming to know nor much care who has fathered her baby, she embraces the mechanical rituals of her job and an existence in permanent transit as a way of avoiding lasting relationships in the earthbound world.

One day, en route to Ushuaia in Patagonia, the most southerly town in the world, she finds herself drawn to one of the passengers: Julian (Casero), an ophthalmologist who has been recently widowed, and is flying south to scatter the ashes of his wife - also a stewardess - at the place where they met.

When a terrorist alert causes air traffic to be temporarily suspended, crew and passengers are stranded for several days in the remote, snow-bound location. After missing a series of personal connections, Teresa and Julian gradually edge towards each other. But at the end of their first night together, she oversleeps, almost missing her flight, and they part on bad terms. She vanishes back into the skies; he plunges off the road in a near-fatal car accident, possibly an attempted suicide, which puts him in hospital for months.

Some viewers will find that the couple takes an excessively long time to come together; others might see Every Stewardess, with its sketchily drawn central characters, as an archetypal male fantasy about the sexy, uniformed sirens who tend to the needs of tired travelling businessmen. But for those who buy into Burman's world, its poetic, melancholy vision exerts a hypnotic grip.

Production values in every department are top-notch, from Ramiro Civita's gorgeous CinemaScope images of the film's sea and mountain locations to a very nifty end credit sequence.

Prod co: BD Cine.
Co-prods: Patagonik Film Group, Wanda Film.
Int'l Sales: BD Cine, Patagonik, Wanda.
Prods: Diego Dubcovsky, Pablo Bossi, Jose Maria Morales.
Scr: Daniel Burman, Emiliano Torres.
Cinematography: Ramiro Civita.
Prod des: Cecilia Bossi.
Ed: Miguel Perez, Ana Diaz Epstein.
Music: Victor Reyes.
Main cast: Alfredo Casero, Ingrid Rubio, Norma Aleandro.