Incidencias: All aboard the laughter train
by Alfonso Rivera
- Duo José Corbacho and Juan Cruz are releasing a comedy ensemble film that is neither charming nor Christmassy, which unfolds on a high-speed train stranded in the middle of nowhere
If Rossy de Palma, an actress who is an expert in putting on excellent performances as unpleasant and embittered characters, here playing the role of a hostess, wishes the passengers of a high-speed train – which is meant to transport them from Madrid to Barcelona that very day, 31 December – “a shitty New Year”, then that curse is guaranteed to come true. José Corbacho and Juan Cruz’s Incidencias gets under way with this poisoned appetiser; the film is a comedy about what happens to these travellers who are trying to get to the Spanish capital to celebrate New Year with the joy that is customary around these dates… but it is not to be.
The high-speed AVE train, driven by Carlos Areces, who is less theatrical than he was in I’m So Excited (but just as addicted to drugs), comes to a halt, having broken down all of a sudden in the middle of a barren wasteland that could easily be those accursed Monegros badlands that ruined the shoot of Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. And as happens with any ultramodern piece of equipment, repairing it ends up being as complicated as reading Japanese. The result of all this is that the ten or so passengers and the three long-suffering members of the train crew will have to live side by side during the hours of chaos, confusion and desperation that start to loom, in a kind of condensed version of the Big Brother show.
In their midst there is unexpectedly a dead body, a politician with dark secrets (like the majority of those who rule Spain) and a lady who props herself up on the bar of the buffet car – probably more than is good for her. Ernesto Alterio breathes life into the second character, joined by his escort, Lola Dueñas, who is also a familiar face in the films of Almodóvar. The talkative wino is played with great flair by Toni Acosta. The remainder of the group on the crazy train is rounded off by a ticket inspector (another “Almodóvar boy”, Roberto Álamo), a “pregnant” couple (Nuria Gago and Miky Esparbé) and a fairly cheerful widow (María Alfonsa Rosso). Aida Folch plays the girl in charge of the bar, who serves as the love interest of an older man.
Corbacho and Cruz (Tapas, Cowards), who cut their teeth in the world of comedy sketch shows on TV, aided by a screenplay written by the directors together with Jaime Bartolomé, string together a series of jokes, social criticism and bizarre situations that are actually quite similar to the absurd reality that surrounds us, as there is no lack of paranoia in the face of the possibility of an Islamist attack, plus plenty of infectious idiocy and incompetence on the part of the authorities (portrayed through the character played by Imanol Arias, who never sets foot on the AVE train). While some moments of comedy are more accomplished than others, which can end up feeling a little forced, the plot is unnecessarily stretched out. The result of this is that it eventually gets somewhat tiring, based as it is around the interspersing of interviews with the main characters, who, by way of police questioning and a massive flashback, recall what came to pass on that journey that had been jinxed ever since Rossy de Palma uttered those fateful words in Barcelona, wishing them a horrible end to their year.
Presented out of competition at the latest edition of the Valladolid Film Festival, Incidencias is a Castelao Pictures and Somnium Films production. Its distribution in Spain and international sales are handled by Filmax.
(Translated from Spanish)