Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Writer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Andres M. Koppel
Cinematography Xavi Gimenez
Music Lucio Godoy
Editor Nacho Ruiz Capillas
Stars Max Von Sydow, Eusebio Poncela, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Monica Lopez
Genre Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Running Time 108 min
Actor Movie Character
- Leonardo Sbaraglia Tomas
- Eusebio Poncela Federico
- Monica Lopez Sara
- Max Von Sydow Samuel
- Antonio Dechent Alejandro
- Guillermo Toledo Horacio
- Alber Ponte Marido Sara
- Andrea San Vicente Hija Sara
- Jesus Noguero Cautivo 2
- Ramon Serrada Cautivo 3
- Marisa Lull Enfermera Planta
- Luis Mesonero Gerald
- Pedro Beitia Inspector
- Jaime Losada Encargado
- Susana Lazaro Cautiva
A luxurious European casino is a venue in which a group of classy men is gambling. Samuel (Max Von Sydow), a concentration camp survivor is now running the casino. One of his employees, Federico (Eusebio Poncela), has a unique talent for stealing other people’s luck by simply laying a hand on them. Federico falls out with his mentor, Samuel.
In response, Samuel takes off his luck as well as brutally casting him out of the gambling world. Determined for vengeance, Federico spends 7 years looking for the lone survivor of a plane crash with enough luck to overpower Samuel. An insurance detective’s tip finally leads him to his target, Tomas (Leonardo Sbaraglia).
Tomas is currently being held in a local hospital for allegations of knocking over a bank before the plane crash. Federico finally manages to extract him from the facility and both head to the gaming paradise. They engage in a series of competitions that they hope will provide them with enough wealth and luck to overpower Samuel. Federico plans to beat Samuel in the Russian roulette, a game he has never lost.
Meanwhile, Sara (Monica Lopez), a cop that was guarding Tomas in the hospital is on their trail. She is a car accident survivor also possessing a lucky charm. She later gets caught in the game of charms on her pursuit of answers to the tragic death of her family. The film ends with a showdown between the trio and Samuel Berg.
Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo has engineered a thrilling supernatural tale of four people. He shows that luck can easily be won or lost as well as being traded away. I was amazed by the writer’s ability to create such a complex but flowing tale. The audience is left with a puzzle to solve as well as being hit with imaginary questions.
The great camerawork of Xavi Gimenez can also not go unnoticed. The setting has been done by the creative use of sunlight and shadow. The casino set up at the beginning of the film was just a gambling match mode. His camerawork ensures that one can even see the rolling dice and even the movement of the slot machines. The desert backdrop summed up with evenly placed trees was magnificent.
The characters played their roles quite well. Tomas played a former young thief and even the luckiest man alive. Not only is he a lone survivor of a plane crash, but he is also in possession of a lucky charm that is highly essential in the plot. Federico is also an earthquake survivor with great abilities. However, he shows great determination and perseverance in the quest for vengeance.
Samuel is the casino operator never to have lost a match in 30 years. Being the “God of chance”, he spends his time in the basement only playing against the luckiest people on the planet. Sara convincingly plays the cop eager to discover the truth behind a gambling ring linking death and luck. She plays an important role in the final showdown.
Despite the subdued use of music and dialogue, the film satisfied the genre. There are some brief scenes of nudity and violence, making it a restricted film to younger viewers. I also watched the original Spanish version which comes with subtitles. Although it was not the best experience, I admired the film’s style more than I liked it. It was creative and unique from the other Hollywood movies of the time.
I hope to see other producers emulating such innovative ideas. For any fantasy drama fan, this is the real deal. A cool 6.9/10 rating is fair enough for this impressive film.