Directed By: Alex De La Iglesia
Written By: Randy Feldman
Cinematography By: Kiko De La Rica
Editor: Pablo Blanco
Cast: Jose Mota, Salma Hayek, Blanca Portillo, Carolina Bang, Santiago Segura, Nacho Vigalando
An out-of-work publicist who suffers an accident looks to sell the exclusive interview rights to the highest bidder in an attempt to provide for his family.
Somewhat a comeback or at least more of a return to form for director Alex De la Iglesia. Mixing reality, and only a bit of thriller this time as he seems to be goo more for a satire or drama. That works in both genres. Even if at times in defining scenes is where it truly begins to mix and match. This is one of the directors more serious or at least more emotional films.
This is also one of his more mainstream efforts. Even if he didn’t write the film as usual. Here the film is actually written by an American screenwriter named Randy Feldman who had previously written the Eddie Murphy action comedy film METRO, TANGO & CASH and NOWHERE TO RUN
This film is slightly off-kilter as it seems to want to be a satire of celebrity and the way the media handles feel good and tragedy. Making the victim into a celebrity even when it knows that the story can only end in tragedy. Basically using the victim, his family and friends to make a good story though dropping them as quickly as they came to them.
The film has a magic realism about it. That strikes strange tones during the film. At once being ridiculously outrageous over the top in comedy scenes. Then having heartwarming scenes that leave more of a cynical edge and mood all over the film. That is an interesting dynamic, but at times leaves the audience confused about how to feel.
The film begins with a familiar situation for it’s main character, before moving quite in grand scale to It’s tragedy that seems immediate. Yet takes a while to settle in. Though throughout the film when it should be spill over with a breakneck vitality. It seems to take it’s time and seem like it’s not as serious and fatal as first it seems. As the film keeps trying to give the audience hope. Then quickly take it away a few moments later
At first you feel sympathy for the main character, but as the films goes on and you get to know all of the characters. Especially the lead. It shows him more fully. You really get a sense of not only how he is but also how others see him. For instance even through we can’t flash back to see The dynamics of his marriage. We get the romance and intimacy between him and his wife through looks and feelings. As well as a few tidbits. That while you never see it, feels deep and illuminating.
I will admit that as an audience member I got emotional quote a few times. More then I expected. It even has me in tears. Though I feel this time it was more designed that way, rather then random as it has been in pay films of his.
The film will obviously remind most film fans of Billy Wilder’s dark comedy ACE IN THE HOLE. It has the same cynical spirit. Though not quite as sharp. Only here the main character is the conductor of all the commotion and media attention. Though at least for a mostly good reason. Though this film has more melodrama and surprisingly a heart. That it doesn’t mind carving quite a few times throughout. This film shows a certain narrative strength. Making something out of something small.
Alex de la Iglesia is a filmmaker who loves to make genre films and also mix and match them or at least their elements. So that you never know what you are going to get. Not all of his films are great, but they are all different. And even though you know that his films are crazy. He still manages to be able to shock you. While at times adding what seems like biographical tidbits also. He is also a filmmaker who loves to have surreal images and elements in his films. Which leads him to be a filmmaker whose wavelength you can never be entirely on. Though depending on which film you either appreciate his style never get used to it. One thing I always admire about de la Iglesia as a director is that while he aims to go over the top. He also is never afraid to take risks.
Working with a bigger name cast then usual or at least a genuine recognizable star in the form of having Salma Hayek in one of the lead roles. The film offers her a stretch for a change. As she isn’t playing the sexy temptress, the mistress, nor even really the love interest. Here she plays a housewife and gets to deliver more lines then usual in any of her films and is believable in her role. While letting her natural attractiveness come out. Maybe she is just better acting in her more natural language.
Though the film seems simple. Throughout it always keeps you guessing.
As the films seems to keep building so that pretty quickly it appears to be more of a busy production rather then a character story. Though through it all the film seems to be able to be precise.