Fantasia 2012 Review: AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT
[With the new film from Alex de la Iglesia playing Fantasia, and Joshua Chaplinski's review echoing my sentiments almost to the T, we present his review of the film from earlier this year]
Iberian rapscallion Alex de la Iglesia returns with AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT, yet another darkly comic exercise in capricious causality.
His previous film, THE LAST CIRCUS, is pretty popular around these parts, although it does have its detractors (namely, me), so I'd be interested in hearing what the community has to say about his this one. It sees Iglesia trading in the literal circus for a figurative one, giving us his warped version of Billy Wilder's ACE IN THE HOLE.
LUCK is the story of a down on his, named Roberto, a former Don Draper in the European advertising game. Due to the timely topicalness of the the current economic climate, he and his family have fallen on hard times. Hard. So he swallows his pride and sets out to beg a powerful old business associate for a job.
After they exchange a few pleasantries, Roberto is promptly denied.
Dejected, he returns to the hotel he and his wife (played by international muse Salma Hayek) spent their honeymoon, hoping to book a room for their anniversary, despite their current woes. Unfortunately, the hotel has been torn down, because a roman coliseum was discovered beneath it.
Curious Roberto goes snooping around the excavation site, only to fall off a ledge and impale his head on an iron rod. Although he survives the fall, he cannot be moved, otherwise he will bleed to death. So he does what any normal person in that situation would do- hire a high-powered publicist. A media frenzy ensues, as Roberto tries to capitalize on the accident to better his family's precarious financial situation.
AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT isn't as off-the-wall or violent or grotesque as CIRCUS, which might disappoint certain members of Alex's congregation, but it does have a much more focused narrative than its predecessor. And I think that might have something to do with this being the first time in a while (ever?) that Iglesia hasn't received a writing credit on one of his films. The script was written by Randy Feldman, the man behind such modern classics as HELL NIGHT, Van Damme's NOWHERE TO RUN, and motherfucking TANGO & CASH! Yes, it is an odd pairing, but it seems to work, as the story is tight and Iglesia's indelible style oozes from every frame.
Which brings me to my next point. I'd like to address one of the more common complaints I've read in the mainstream reviews: This is not a subtle film.
Well, duh. Have you never seen an Iglesia film before? They're all over-the-top farces. I understand if that's not your bag of tea, but you should at least have a frame of reference for what a director does. Do a modicum of research.
And do you think the carousels and pony rides of ACE IN THE HOLE were subtle? That was a sledgehammer to the face! If there had been product placement and the internet back in the 50's, you better believe Wilder would have incorporated them.
And while the social commentary may be obvious, I feel like this is one of Iglesia's more subdued films. I'd say it's most akin to LA COMMUNIDAD and DYING OF LAUGHTER, which are two of my personal favorites. It may not be as good as those films, but it is a worthy addition to Iglesia's filmography. No film is going to be his worst while the spaghetti spectacle of THE OXFORD MURDERS still exists.
So if you are a fan of Iglesia, you probably don't need me to tell you to see this film. And if you aren't a fan, screw you!