Monday, December 19, 2011

SCN: the Ibarretxe brothers' comedy about life & movies, AN ALMOST PERFECT WORLD

A sweet-natured comedy about bank robbers, film-making and a very overweight screenwriter, AN ALMOST PERFECT WORLD is a kind of constant goof on movies, life and letting go. It's a lot of fun, off and on, and it might have been more so were the two brothers who wrote and directed the movie more disciplined and focused. On the other hand, those very qualities might have put the kibosh on the twosome's free-ranging interests and their ability to pack into this 88-minute movie so much bizarre enjoyment.

The product of the imaginations of Esteban Ibarretxe (shown at left) and José Miguel Ibarretxe (shown below, right), the film is nothing if not movie-conscious. The references to films, classic and contemporary, together with a plot that owes much more to movie imagination than to real life, make this a film that will appeal primarily to those who love movies beyond all else and who possess a memory full of events, characters and dialog from their vast catalog of film and genres. An Almost Perfect World draws from the film-about-films genre, the love story, the outsider-makes-good tale, the bank heist comedy and more.

What distinguishes the brothers' film is not so much their borrowing and genre-jumping but more the wit, style and chutzpah with which they manage this. Among so many pos-sible examples, the best is probably the film's ending. TrustMovies suspects that these two movie-loving movie-makers didn't even have an ending for their film. At least, not a really great one, you know? So what they do is pan over to a guy reading a newspaper, the headline of which is one of the great non-sequiturs to appear in a modern day movie. Then they follow this with another pan to the subject of the newspaper headline, neither of which have anything to do with real life but are oh, so, of the movies. All this, by the way, has less than zero to do with anything we've seen in the film up to now, but it's wonderful nonetheless. That is, if you're a movie-lover. And maybe have a soft spot for old B-movie horror hits that feature Leo G. Carroll.

Mostly though, An Almost Perfect World deals with its very funny/sad and very overweight hero, played by an actor -- Javier Merino -- whom I have not seen in more than a decade, since one of my favorite films from the Spanish Cinema Now history, Visionarios. Merino is quite something, using his amazing girth in ways that most heavy-set actors on this side of the Atlantic would not let themselves get near. But he does it all with such surprising grace and fluidity that we can watch without feeling too embarrassed.

The lead bank robber, a character who takes a brotherly liking to Merino's, is played by the great Spanish actor Antonio Dechent, a more-or-less staple at SCN over the years. Dechent, shown above in a police line-up that is among the film's many funny moments, has often displayed an intriguing combination of humor & menace, and these are served up again -- and very well -- in this film.

The rest of the cast is up to snuff, with a comic actor known as Javivi doing a very funny job as the "fake" Italian author whose novel Merino must adapt for the screen. This novel leads to some amusing fantasy moments (like the one above) complete with priests, nuns, guns and whips. As I said, the movie is all over the place. But should you find it someday on cable or (we should be so lucky) DVD, you should -- movie lover that you are -- get quite a charge out of the film, which played only once, this past Sunday evening, at the FSLC's Spanish Cinema Now.

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