The Die is Cast.
THE DIE IS CAST (LA SUERTE ESTA ECHADA) (ARGENTINA)
A Buena Vista Intl. release (in Argentina) of a Patagonik Film Group presentation of an Incaa production. (International sales: Patagonik Film Group, Buenos Aires.) Producers, Pablo Bossi, Patricio Tobal.
Directed, written by Sebastian Borensztein. Camera (Cinecolor, HD-to-35mm), Sepe Zayas; editors, Maximiliano Ezzaoui, Miguel Perez; music, Alejandro Lerner; production designer, Valeria Ambrosio; costume designer, Julio Suarez; sound (Dolby Digital), Omar Jadur; assistant director, Alejandro Lanezan; casting, Marcela Calabro. Reviewed at Los Angeles Latino Film Festival, Oct. 28, 2005. (Also in New Montreal Film Festival.) Running time: 99 MIN.
With: Gaston Pauls, Marcelo Mazzarello, Jose Gallardou, Alejandro Awada, Leticia Bredice, Claudio Rissi.
(Spanish, English dialogue)
Two half-brothers, seemingly jinxed and doomed to a life of causing unintended misery, try to find some way out of their dilemma in writer-director Sebastian Borensztein's amusing if limited comedy, "The Die Is Cast." Mordant tone is pitched in a more mainstream register for Argentine auds than in Martin Rejtman's deadpan piece de resistance "The Magic Gloves," while slapstick aspects are toned down to attract more discriminating viewers. Such threading of the commercial needle may not draw much foreign interest, but Borensztein's latest will continue its healthy festival run.
Pic takes its time establishing the slightest connection between stage actor Felipe (Marcelo Mazzarello) and shoe company staffer Guillermo (Gaston Pauls), half-brothers who endure humiliating and occasionally hilarious experiences that cost them their jobs. Being from a more superstitious profession, Felipe is certain he's been afflicted with a jinx that's also spread misfortune to his cast members. Guillermo is beset by such humdrum irritants as a car alarm blaring away every night.
Summoned to visit dying father Don Victor (Jose Gallardou) the two sons are privy to his last wish: He wants to snort some coke before he croaks.
Felipe scores the coke at a smoky, wonderfully atmospheric Buenos Aires tango bar. Guillermo grows intrigued with the alluring lady on the dance floor--so he goes off to a maestro and learns the moves.
Misfortune soon strikes again and the coke is stolen, sending the flustered Felipe to query another theater person famous for being jinxed (Claudio Rissi, in a jolly supporting perf).
The trick of "The Die Is Cast" is to create an alternate reality inside the everyday world of contemporary Buenos Aires, where jinxes could actually be possible. Borensztein has a comic writer's enjoyment of others' awful situations, and informs his script and direction with unstated acknowledgement that people's belief in a thing is powerful enough to make it so.
Far less effective is how Borensztein resolves the brothers' endless maze of problems. On the other hand, the chemistry between the affable Pauls and the more openly comic Mazzarello is extremely well judged, their clashing manners creating an emotional engine that fuels the film.
Pic revels in the city's latenight moods and melancholia, with lenser Sepe Zayas and production designer Valeria Ambrosio making the night rounds with sophisticated pleasure.