Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review: La Chispa De La Vida (As Luck Would Have It)

Roberto goes off to beg for a job from a former boss, having failed as a freelance ad copy writer. Bouyed by his one-person cheer squad, Luisa (Salma Hayek) he sets off with mixed cheer. The meeting is a deflating disaster. As a tonic, he goes to Cartagena to the hotel where he and his wife spent their honeymoon. It is now an archeological site of a newly discovered Roman amphitheatre which is in the process of becoming a public attraction. Trying to wrest himself free from the hoardes of reporters and eager crowds of Jose citizen, Roberto wanders to the area of the site still under construction and falls from scaffolding to some crisscrossed iron that, while bouncy enough to prevent his death, is also spiky enough to lodge a length of finger thick metal into the back of his skull. The mayor, archeological team and media burst on to the scene expecting a glimpse of the  splendour to come but only seem to see Roberto.

The rest develops into the kind of bright and dark satire that made Ace in the Hole so powerful. The agenda here differs a little, however, managing a constant feed of digs at the new EU, the disembowelling of its ancient culture, the weakening of its money and the resulting widening of divide between rich and poor. In the middle are the media, mostly venal and bloodthirsty but yet numbering a conscience or two among the ranks. Once you get into the mix of tones offered here you'll find this piece enjoyable and might be pleasantly surprised by the ending.

Jose Mota manages a lot of range with a role that demands he keep inhumanly still. Salma Hayek delights as the woman who has attempted to keep her sinking husband positive but now must invest as much truth as she can into providing even more. It is she whom we follow, coping with these crazy Spaniards (her character is as Mexican as she is) and their hyped up circus of a lifestyle.

While a contemporary European would recognise more of the nuance here this is still an enjoyable and bittersweet film. It was the only one from the Spanish Film Festival this year I was able to get to. If SBS end up showing it they will probably use the English title. Keep an eye out.

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