A feature-length Twilight Zone episode that takes itself far too seriously, this Spanish thriller revolves around the notion that luck is far more than just a passing state, inexplicable and uncontrollable it's a commodity to be stolen, hoarded and traded. It's also a curse concealed within a blessing, because for one man to be lucky, others must...read more
A feature-length Twilight Zone episode that takes itself far too seriously, this Spanish thriller revolves around the notion that luck is far more than just a passing state, inexplicable and uncontrollable it's a commodity to be stolen, hoarded and traded. It's also a curse concealed within a blessing, because for one man to be lucky, others must of necessity be unlucky. At the Ucanca Casino in Tenerife, a gambler is on a winning streak until Federico (Eusebio Poncela) touches his hand and somehow drains all his luck away. Federico, who once survived a devastating earthquake, is the protege of casino owner Sam (Max Von Sydow), a concentration camp survivor whom fate spared even as she condemned every other child in his barrack to death. Tired of living in the older man's shadow, Federico is secretly planning to bolt, but Sam waylays him before he can leave. After an apparently innocent hug, Federico's luck is gone, transferred to Sam. Flashforward: Federico has spent years looking for a man as lucky as he once was, and his search finally bears fruit. Bank robber Tomas (Leonardo Sbaraglia), who's on the lam from the police, survives a plane crash that killed everyone else on board. Federico helps smuggle Tomas out of the hospital, and persuades him to enter into an underground in which gamblers bet staggering sums and, apparently, human souls on bizarre games of chance. On whose head will a buzzing insect choose to land? Who can run full speed and blindfolded through a forest without smashing headlong into a tree? As Tomas wins contest after contest, coming ever closer to a final, winner-take-all roll of the dice at Ucanca, dedicated policewoman Sara (Monica Lopez) is closing in on him. Ironically, she too is one of the lucky, having survived the car crash that killed her husband and child. Inspired by his childhood memory of the day two jumbo jets collided on a Tenerife airport runway (the 1977 accident was one of the worst in aviation history), Juan Carlos Fresnadillo clearly wanted to make a Borgesian thriller, a metaphysical meditation wrapped in the skin of a genre tale. But his Goya Award for Best New Director notwithstanding, Fresnadillo's film is little more than a gloomy and attenuated Twilight Zone episode, reminiscent of Alex Cox's portentous THE WINNER (1997) without the truly breathtaking conclusion. (In Spanish, with subtitles)
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