Weakly Drawn Characters, And Puerile Dialogue, Added To Plot Weaknesses Devalue An Attempt At Anti-Establishment Satire.
Dramatic episodes are interlaced with scenes that are probably intended to claim comedic intent in this Spanish-made farce that is handicapped by a small budget and tight shooting schedule, serious obstacles to be sure that face veteran actors Karra Elejalde and Fernando Guillén Cuervo, who also serve here as co-directors as well as sharing the lead roles and contributing to the script. The film has been a popular success in Spain, while finding little favour outside that nation. Reasons for this general lack of approval are several, including a less than cogent point of view being provided by the directors, and dialogue that too often becomes merely an assault upon viewer sensibilities. Although the plot line clearly furnishes potential for constructing elements of irony, erratic character development in conjunction with awkward editing results in a good deal of cartoonish burlesque marked by wearisome exaggeration. Shortly after action begins, intoxicated travelling salesman Mariano (Elejalde) loses control of his automobile while upon a rural road and drives into a field that is part of a clandestine marijuana plantation. While a drunken Mariano decides to stay put and sleep it off, a squad of local Guardia Civil sets the illicit plants afire and he, obviously under the influence of the burning weed, fancies that he has seen the Virgin Mary, apparently because he had been listening to a call-in radio programme hosted by a "Maria" Vélez (Silvia Bel) before he veered into the crop. While recovering in hospital, Mariano gibbers about his religious vision, attracting the interest of evangelical nun "Sister Trini" (Gloria Muñoz) who, along with her votaries and a confidence man, Enrique Torres, or "Tony Towers" (Guillén Cuervo), salute Mariano as a prophet, combining their energies to build a holy shrine at the seared site of his near immolation, therewith raising large sums of cash, at the same time developing a fresh persona for the former salesman whom they prevail upon (against his better judgement) to accept this new sacred status. The film is overlong, with a surfeit of harrowing scenes featuring Elejalde that, through inordinate usage of the most oafish forms of profanity, are apparently designed to be some type of comedic comment upon Roman Catholicism and other Spanish institutions. These are unsuccessful in their attempts, as the spiritual exploits of Mariano, Tony and the others seem only able to claim success with the simplest of provincials. Additionally, there is dialogue filled with punning wordplay that is virtually untranslatable into a non-Spanish tongue, with a result that English only speakers will do a good deal of head scratching at the subtitles. Released upon a Venevision DVD with special material including Spanish language only interviews with the two principals. Both audio and visual quality are estimable.
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