Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
Spain, 2006. Estudios Picasso, Origen Producciones Cinematograficas S.A., NBC Universal Global Networks. Screenplay by Agustin Diaz Yanes, based on characters created by Carlota Perez-Reverte and the novels of Arturo Perez-Reverte. Cinematography by Paco Femenia. Produced by Alvaro Augustin, Antonio Cardenal. Music by Roque Baños. Production Design by Emilio Ardura. Costume Design by Francesca Sartori. Film Editing by José Salcedo.
The most ambitious project ever attempted in the Spanish film industry, this epic is an incomprehensible mess adapted from five novels by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Viggo Mortensen gives a monotonous performance as the title character, a 17th-century soldier turned mercenary who, as a sword for hire, becomes unwittingly involved in the intrigues of politicians and clergymen struggling for power in Spain’s golden era. The period details are astoundingly good, and the cinematography is some of the most beautiful work of the year, but Mortensen, a character actor wrongly thought of as a leading man because of his dashing good looks, mumbles his dialogue for two and a half hours. Too much of the historical detail is so obscure as to confuse the audience more often than entertain it. Ariadna Gil is lovely as the famous actress whose heart belongs to our hero, but their romantic saga blossoms in the film’s conclusion without actually having been developed much before that, one of the many examples of how unfocused this film’s narrative is.
European Film Award: Prix D’Excellence, for costumes
Toronto International Film Festival: 2006