Nobody's Life

Nobody's Life


Reviewed by: Martin Gray

A stylish opening has the unseen Sergio (Adrian Portugal) showing photographs of his dad's life, as he tells us of Emilio's successes - the fantastic economics degree, the marvellous bank job, the wonderful marriage. For the next 10 minutes or so, scenes of Sergio's domestic life alternate with testimonies from family and friends as to what a great guy he is, how happy Emilio is with his life, what a fabulous touch he has with their investments.

It's no surprise, then, that the idealised picture soon proves to be more than a little wonky. Emilio has no great job with the Bank of Spain. He sits on a park bench all day, as the family lives off wife Agata's wage and the money he persuades people, who trust him to "invest".

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And everything might have carried on if not for a fateful dinner with pals Jose and Lisa. The news of their separation causes Emilio and Agata to question their own happiness; Jose asks for some of his money back to finance his life change, giving Emilio a financial headache; and Emilio is taken with his friends' ripe young babysitter, Rosana.

Saying more risks spoiling an involving movie - suffice to say, things fall apart; Emilio's centre cannot hold. The fun comes in watching his Walter Mitty life unravel, wondering if Emilio's wife or lover will guess that he's the prince of lies before he has a breakdown. The disappointment follows with the resolution. The contract between viewer and filmmaker is firmly broken by the latter. Having agreed to suspend our disbelief about Emilio fooling everybody in his life for 12 years, we deserve a better pay-off than that which comes. The only real surprise is that the story follows such a predictable pattern. Some might call this tragedy; I call it lazy.

Thankfully, there are incidental pleasures. The performances are faultless - you do care what happens to Emilio. Protagonist privilege means we're torn between hoping he gets away with his latest lie and wanting to shake the stupid-by-default people around him. The score by Xavier Capellas is spot on and Eduard Cortes' direction pleasingly workmanlike. There are no clever tricks to detract from the story, which is a compliment.

The English subtitling is occasionally frustrating, though - white lettering on white backgrounds do not an easy read make, meaning you're too busy trying to decipher the words to appreciate the acting. Oh, and the "It all started with a little lie" tagline, isn't that an understatement?

When the film ends, one question remains. How can a man sit on a park bench every day, rain and shine, for 12 years and not suffer terrible piles?

Reviewed on: 26 Jul 2003
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Flying by deceit of his pants.
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Director: Eduard Cortés

Writer: Eduard Cortés, Piti Español

Starring: José Coronado, Adriana Ozores, Marta Etura, Roberto Álvarez, Adrián Portugal

Year: 2002

Runtime: 103 minutes

Country: Spain


EIFF 2003

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