© Arsenal Filmverleih GmbH

Mexico/Argentina/Spain 2003

Opening 14 Jul 2005

Directed by: Hugo Rodríguez
Writing credits: Martín Salinas
Principal actors: Diego Luna, Marta Belaustegui, Lucas Crespi, Jesús Ochoa, Rafael Inclán

This fast-paced black comedy from Mexico makes Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes seem nicotine-free by comparison. On a split screen we intrude upon Lolo (Diego Luna, Y Tu Mama También) multi-tasking: he hacks into the website of a bank, smokes and makes coffee on his gas burner. He also jealously monitors Andrea’s apartment next door. Lolo loves Andrea and has bugged her apartment to watch her entertain an older lover, whom she hopes will jump-start her musical career. Meanwhile, Nene lights up in the car and discusses “one of the few things in life worth living for” (smoking) with newly non-smoking Tomson (Jesús Ochoa). They are waiting to deliver Lolo’s computer data to Russian Swoboda. All goes awry when the discs are inadvertently exchanged. Fast forward to Beto’s drugstore after hours. Beto smokes in the upstairs shower, oblivious that his wife Clara is bandaging Nene’s gun wounds downstairs. At the same time, Goyo attempts to head off a policeman in his barber shop, while his wife Carmen shaves and eviscerates Swoboda. What a relief that some people survive to the end. Lolo lights another cigarette.

Set in Mexico City, even radical non-smokers might choose to take a puff during 90 minutes of real time in the lives of people whose names I hope to have matched correctly with the characters, considering that there are also Carlos, Joaquin, Memo, Sanchez, and Tońio. All the actors are equally important and talented in this story of youthfulness, intrigue and ambition accompanied by rock music. Sometimes it tilts into slapstick, such as the running gag of a dog barking at someone in the shadows. Couples quibble as if they were in soap operas; in fact, this could also be a farce of some early black and white gangster films. The storylines all come together neatly in the end. By director Hugo Rodriguez, this won six Oscar-equivalent awards in Mexico as well as five MTV-Mexico awards. (Becky Tan)

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