Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
Spain/USA, 2002. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Lolafilms, Mr. Mudd, Antena 3 Televisión, Vía Digital. Screenplay by Nicholas Shakespeare, based on his novel. Cinematography by Jose Luis Alcaine. Produced by Andrés Vicente Gómez, John Malkovich. Music by Alberto Iglesias. Production Design by Pierre-Francois Limbosch. Costume Design by Bina Daigeler. Film Editing by Mario Battistel.
For all its passionate photography, score, convoluted political story and rich cast, this is a surprisingly unaffecting movie. Directed by John Malkovich, it stars Javier Bardem as a South American police detective who is on the hunt for a revolutionary named Ezequiel, a man gathering the people in a revolt against their fascist government. Bardem puts himself in quite a few dangerous situations looking for this man, taking pleasure only in the company of his loving wife and beautiful daughter. When he befriends and then later becomes attached to his daughter’s beautiful dance instructor (Laura Morante), he threatens his personal life as well as his professional one when she turns out to be connected to the wrong people. The atmosphere that Malkovich creates is terrific, hearkening back to the good old days of the Costa-Gavras political thrillers, but the screenplay is a rambling mess and the storyline too confusing.