Each week, Pierre and his friends organize what is called as "un dîner de cons". Everyone brings the dumbest guy he could find as a guest. Pierre thinks his champ -François Pignon- will ... See full summary »
A boxer named Manny, battling a potentially life-threatening brain injury, finds his soul to be the object of a metaphysical fight. Two different supernatural agents are sent to win over his soul to their side: one is an angel from a curious version of Heaven, that looks just like a beatific Paris, and in it everyone speaks French; and the other agent is a waitress from Hell, sent to seduce him to spend his eternity in a red-tinted prison where everyone speaks English. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Many observers have noted that at first glance on paper one might think this is a Pedro Almodovar film, what with Victoria Abril cast in it, among other things. Well, I haven't seen too much of Almodovar's work, and I knew nothing about director Augustin Diaz Yanes when I entered the theatre to see this film. But I wonder, did Almodovar show such promise so early in his career? From the first few minutes I was captivated by the movie and I stayed enthralled throughout. By the time Penelope Cruz was dancing around to "Kung Fu Fighting" I knew this was a rare film indeed (and no, it's no rip-off of 'Pulp Fiction,' either!)
For all it's audaciousness, the premise has been used many times before. Like 'Paradise Lost,' the battlefield is Heaven, Hell and Earth. But the specifics are a little more prosaic: angels from Heaven and Hell fight for their survival over the soul of a rather ordinary mortal, a not-to-bright or personable boxer. Heaven and Hell are presented as distinctly mortal-like places--Heaven is nice, but hardly the celestial paradise we envision, and Hell is unpleasant, but nothing nearly as bad as Dante imagined. The two places are run like competing businesses, it would seem, and the CEO God (and presumably Satan in his own realm) is AWOL--apparently he's too tired or disinterested to bother with the details of running the place, leaving that task up to lesser creatures. Right now Hell seems to have the upper hand. Heaven is somehow almost bankrupt and may well go under if they can't snag this one earthbound soul, the aforementioned boxer, who fate has cast in some great future role that we never fully understand. But there's trouble brewing in Hell, too, and even though they've got the advantage over Heaven at the moment, there are internecine power struggles to worry about there. So each each side dispatches an agent to try to win over Manny, this boxer who unwittingly holds the fate of this world and those beyond in his hands.
That's where Abril and Cruz come in, and they are just a joy to watch for the almost two hours this flick runs. Abril is Lola the heavenly angel who ingratiates herself in Manny's life as his wife, and Cruz is Carmen, who poses as his long-lost cousin (Manny isn't the brightest crayon in the box so he can be convinced that all of a sudden he has a five-year marriage he doesn't remember.) Lola and Carmen thrust and parry throughout the film, but on a surprisingly cordial level--Carmen isn't as bad as one would expect a denizen of Hell to be and neither woman seems possessed of any otherworldly powers; they go about their business in a very earthly way. You combine a great script, two outstanding performances and excellent direction and not surprisingly you get a first-rate film, as good as any I've seen this year. This is not quite Orson Welles and 'Citizen Kane' here, but it put me in mind of it, it's that good.
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