5DoP #3 – El hombre de las mil caras (2016)


by Jaime Grijalba.

We all knew the thrills and fun of a film like ‘Catch Me If You Can’ (2002, Spielberg), where DiCaprio manages to scam diverse institutions and people into having a comfortable life without having to work a single day a job that he wouldn’t do for fun. This Spanish film wants to follow suit on the structure, style and bravura that the Oscar nominated film had, also using a real story as a basis for the events portrayed, which aren’t restricted to the territory of one country, as they spread throughout Europe and even Asia, and it sounds interesting how it decides to tell the story from a bit player in the whole main event of the film (which is the delivery of the man who scams the entire nation of Spain to the authorities), but there must be some sort of medal to do it in a way that is so technically proficient and at the same time so ultimately boring in how it portrays the action and the suspense of everything that’s going on. I’m sure that for Spaniards this might be among the most thrilling and interesting stories of their most recent years regarding the criminal intent and scope of the amount of money that was stolen, but at the same time, the story itself doesn’t hand itself to be filmed in a manner that would be thrilling or interesting, at least not on the level of the film by Steven Spielberg, which handles the chase and the fugue in a way that makes it compelling for every member.

The first problem here is that there’s no chaser, so we’re left with the characters that are hiding and moving around an obscene amount of money, yet at the same time we don’t see them have any fun with it, nor using it in any way that’d help them become blinded or protected against those who are looking for him, so we’re stuck with people that move, hide in apartments that are obviously luxurious and that make constant mistakes that lead them to their captivity. The film also builds up momentum towards the end, where a negotiation is carried out so that the person that got all that money out of the country can be delivered to justice on fewer charges, and all those moments are filmed in a way that calls for their attention, but at the same time the event itself is devoid of any suspense, and the whole thing just wants to build up to a plot twist that introduces us to the idea that the one controlling everything wasn’t the criminal, but someone else that we’ve followed all the way through (thank God it wasn’t the narrator), but it’s all filmed and staged in such a way that makes it uninteresting and the twist, when it comes, it turns into a “who cares” situation, as this shitty person gets the money instead of that other shitty person. We’re left wondering who are we rooting for, what are we doing watching a film about people getting rich and scams done to the economy of a country that now suffers.

But don’t let my harsh words dissuade you, as there’s a high possibility that most people will like this film, as it has an interesting cinematography, the time is represented faithfully through its attentive art direction and production design, the music is catchy, and the acting gives way to mannerisms and tics that are fun to watch, specially when most of the scenes are people talking to each other in offices or through the phone. And even if it still feels long at 2 hours, the editing does its best to avoid empty moments, as everything is filled with intention, mood and content… but if the content is dull itself, there’s not much to do. It’s an interesting procedural that only gets more and more tiring with time.



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