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As Luck Would Have It

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- The director of The Last Circus applies his offbeat humour to the tragedy of an ordinary man, afflicted by the crisis and victim of harassment from the scavenging media.

As Luck Would Have It

In The Big Carnival (also known as Ace in the Hole), Billy Wilder depicted an ambitious, troubled and unscrupulous journalist (powerfully played by Kirk Douglas) who arrives in Albuquerque absolutely determined to find a job on the local newspaper. With this aim achieved, the inanity of the city motivates him so little that, when he sees an accident that could boost his professional success, he doesn't hesitate to exploit it. A poor man is trapped alive between the rocks of a mine, giving rise to great media commotion, with no respect for the feelings of the ill-fated man or his family.

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In his latest comedy drama, As Luck Would Have It [+see also:
trailer
film focus
interview: Álex de la Iglesia
interview: Álex de la Iglesia
film profile
]
, Álex de la Iglesia has adapted a screenplay by Randy Feldman which strongly resembles the above-mentioned anecdote, but is much less visceral than his previous, brutal film The Last Circus [+see also:
trailer
film focus
interview: Álex de la Iglesia
film profile
]
(and less expensive in production terms). Here, the big carnival centres around Roberto, an unfortunate man who suffers a series of humiliations all in one day, when, in an attempt to escape unemployment, he calls on an old friend running a powerful modern company. Here, the rocks of Wilder's mine are replaced by the historical stones of a restored Roman theatre, which is about to be opened with great pomp and self-glorification by the local authorities. The shackles holding back the poor, unfortunate protagonist are embodied by a piece of iron several centimetres long that becomes embedded in his skull after a ridiculous fall. The wretched media, hungry for gory stories, strive to exploit the emotional, morbid fascination of the incident by conducting an exclusive interview with the afflicted man, around whom crowd curious people, predatory cameras, and a family (led by Mexican actress Salma Hayek) who don't understand what on earth is going on.

But the great difference between Álex de la Iglesia and Billy Wilder is the point of view, where the camera is, and what the director forces us to see more. Whereas Wilder doesn't leave his upstart journalist, De la Iglesia makes sure that we become just as disorientated as the desperate unemployed man played by the generally comic actor José Mota. He makes us feel the same anxiety, the same terror, to the point that we start to feel, like him, capable of selling our own soul to get out of this crisis.

As Luck Would Have It is another example of the new cinematic genre born of the current economic crisis, of the type of film that, like the tragicomedy Five Square Meters [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Max Lemcke
film profile
]
demands dignity, respect, and social justice in a sick social fabric where small fish continue to be exploited, while big fish, unpunished, perpetuate a lifestyle dominated by the most shameless materialism, insensitivity, and selfishness. It is the society that all films denounce, from our bitter smile when we see, astounded, the utter ridiculousness of what we are used to living, the great carnaval (or rather, circus to stay loyal to De la Iglesia's universe) where we all inevitably belong. Worst of all, we are so sucked into its irresistable whirlpool that we end up asking ourselves, like the main character in As Luck Would Have It, if there is anything else to do except to accept these intolerable game rules in order to survive. A terrible perspective, painful and absurd like un piece of metal stuck through one's head.

(Translated from Spanish)

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