The central premise is that luck is a real force, a gift that people are born with but can betaken away. Deep in the bowels of a mysterious casino (one that sits in the middle of mountainwasteland) lives Max Von Sydow in Howard Hughes-like seclusion. He appears to be the darkgod of luck, capable of stealing any trace of your like by a single touch, and this is precisely whathe does to a protege who wants to strike out on his own. This latter, deprived of his own luck,seeks …ut someone new, someone whose luck will be strong enough to allow for revenge againstVon Sydow. One might almost call this magic realism, what with its combination of real-worldand otherworldly settings, thriller conventions, and bizarre characters. Stylish and atmospheric,this is something quite different, and well worth a look.
Just as the movie plunges you into a world all its own, so too does the soundtrack. Theenvironmental effects are excellent: when there are scenes inside the casino (for instance), thesounds of the casino are enough to make you think you really are there. The left-right effects aregood too (notably in a toe-curling freeway sequence), and the dialogue is free of distortion.Excellent work.
A very handsome-looking film. there is no grain, no edge enhancement visible to speak of,and the colours are superb. The reds are luxurious and warm inside the casino, while the bluesare cold outside. The blacks are excellent, which is good given that a very large proportion ofthe film takes place at night and/or in very dark rooms. The ratio is the full 2.35:1widesscreen.
Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo provides an audio commentary (in Spanish, with subtitles).He puts special emphasis on explaining the symbolic and thematic goals behind the technicalchoice. Most of the other extras are a bit thin: the featurettes are strictly promotional, and theyare accompanied by four trailers and the Cannes promo. The DVD under review had severeproblems with these extras: digital breakup became extreme and the feature finally locked upaltogether. The other extras are filmographies and a fairly extensive gallery divided into posters,photos, 2 press book sections, wardrobe design, set design, and storyboards. The menu’s mainpage and intro are animated and scored.
The technical difficulties may be limited to this particular disc. If so, fine. If not, that’s aproblem. The film itself works fine, though, and deserves to be seen.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- 2 Featurettes
- Cannes Promo
- Gallery (Posters, Photos, Press Books, Wardrobe and Set Design, Storyboards)