25 Carat

25 Carat


Reviewed by: Emma Slawinski

In this tightly woven thriller, a man and a woman are both trapped in unsavoury careers because of the bad hand life has dealt them. Abel (Francesc Garrido) and Kay (Aida Folch) are living on their fist and wits respectively. He is slugging for a crime boss who specialises in debt collection and struggling to hide his work from his young son. She is one has a small-time robbery gig with a friend and tries to keep her crooked father out of trouble with his creditors.

When a chance encounter flings the two together, literally, their mutual attraction is too strong to resist. Before long they are partners, not just romantically, but in one last daring heist, which will either cost them their lives or open up a new future for them.

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The well-worn story of boy-girl buddies in crime is stylishly reworked, the simmering tension between the Kay and Abel taking cues from the clandestine love affairs in films like Jackie Brown or Out of Sight. There’s also a paternal aspect to the relationship that recalls Jean Reno’s reluctant father figure in Leon – and it can’t be by chance that, with her short bob, choker and full-mouthed pout Folch looks like Nathalie Portman all grown up.

Director Patxi Amézcua sets the pace carefully – it’s fast enough to keep your heart-rate up but not in that forced, dizzying, blink-and-you’ll miss it style with which Hollywood is so enamoured. In this respect it resembles another European film that made waves earlier this year, Anything For Her, which has a similarly taut and well-structured narrative, without going all-out on big bangs and vertiginous hand-held camera action.

It’s good, too, to see a new location as the backdrop to the action, and Amézcua’s wintery Barcelona is an unexpectedly cold, hard environment, the outdoor shots bathed in unforgiving grey light, and indoor scenes depicted in bewitching grainy sepia tones.

If one complaint could be made, it’s that all the loose ends are tied up a bit too neatly, with the result that some clichéd bits of dialogue and direction creep in. The trust issues between Kay and Folch have no sooner surfaced than they’re resolved and nothing is too big for them to handle. And while the cast are strong overall and Garrido and Folch have a convincing chemistry, no one performance stands out. Having said that 25 Carats manages to juggle its many peripheral characters without any of them seeming arbitrary or hollow, even though some of them get little screen time.

In spite of a few reservations, 25 Carats is a satisfying and suspenseful debut, which marks out Amézcua as one to watch.

Reviewed on: 06 Oct 2009
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A thug and a thief fall for each other and try to escape a life of crime in this Barcelona-set thriller.
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Director: Patxi Amézcua

Writer: Patxi Amézcua

Starring: Francesc Garrido, Aida Folch, Manuel Morón

Year: 2008

Runtime: 86 minutes

Country: Spain

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