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cast: Leonardo Sbaraglia, Eusebio Poncela, Monica Lopez, Antonio Dechent, and Max von Sydow

director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

104 minutes (15) 2001
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by Mike Philbin
You sometimes start watching a movie and you know exactly what's going to happen. No matter how stunning the special effect, characters or action, you go, 'yeah, well he'll not die, she'll get her man and they'll prep it for a sequel.' Wait a minute, this is a Spanish film, and in Spain the rules of the bullfight. It's about the shine of luck that helps any skilled toreador go about his balletic slaughter show, it is that magical sheen that allows a gored, floored bullfighter to kiss the snotty snout of his mauling assailant and still get up and walk to the hospital unaided as his blood spills across the sand. Bullfighting is about luck. Some bullfighters are luckier than others.
   Federico (Leonardo Sbaraglia) is the understudy of a shadowy figure called Samuel (Max Von Sydow - in a stunning role). The setup seems to be Frederico is a security guard in a casino, until he makes a bid for control and Samuel kicks him out, keeping something very precious - his luck. Unbelievably, yes, Samuel steals Frederico's luck. So Frederico has to scrounge around hunting for 'the lucky ones', those people who have survived recent car crashes, air crashes and other disasters to regain access to this high society. These lucky ones play a special part in a ritualistic game of chance that the upper echelon of a shadowy gambling elite.
   It's an odd but totally competent filmic experience that unfurls its earlier visual clues with stunning poignancy. An Oscar-winning foreign film with some great performances, direction, lighting, camerawork, and writing - it has the lot.

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