Un Franco, 14 Pesetas

Un Franco, 14 Pesetas


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Based on the real life story of writer/director and star Carlos Iglesias, Un Franco, 14 Pesetas lifts the lid on migrant workers, fleeing Franco's Spain for a better life in Switzerland in the 1960s, which has a resonance in the Europe of today.

Iglesias plays Martin a downtrodden Madrilleno, whose marriage to Pilar (Nieve de Medina) is solid but grim as they, along with their son Pablo (Ivan Martin) eke out an existence in a basement room at his parents'. Pilar is a feisty femme and, in a bid to escape the inlaws, saves up enough cash to put a deposit down on a house, only to lose the lot when Martin loses his job.

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Martin, like many of his countrymen decides the only answer is to head north to Switzerland, where, though the streets aren't paved with gold, they are pretty close to it, in that a franc is equal to 14 pesetas. He and his pal Marcos (Javier Guitterez) are soon on the train, ready to pose as tourists to enter Switzerland, since they don't have work visas.

Once in, the film takes proceeds with a gentle charm as the emphasis falls on 'strangers in a strange land' comedy, which sees scruffy wideboy Marcos and dapper gent Martin find a room at an inn in a picture postcard village and work at the local factory. The inn's proprieter is, naturally, a buxom blonde - Hannah (Isabel Blanco) - but just as liaisons between she and he look as though they may become dangerous, Pilar and Pablo turn up.

This sounds like an awful lot of plot but, in fact, there's plenty more to come as the family try to adapt to their new life. Cleverly the German-speaking Swiss aren't subtitled initially, leading to us sharing the migrants' perspective and confusion.

Although, occasionally resorting to stereotypes and cliche to find a laugh, by and large Iglesias script is intelligent and witty. He isn't afraid of the downbeat - and has a very serious point to make about the nature of migration and life in Spain in the Sixties, which has implications today. The Spain of today is a far cry from the Franco era and is now on the receiving end of migrant workers from elsewhere. This tale that shows the difficult choices these workers face and invites us to understand and respect them.

Reviewed on: 18 Mar 2007
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Gentle comedy drama - a love song to migrant workers everywhere.
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Director: Carlos Iglesias

Writer: Carlos Iglesias

Starring: Carlos Iglesias, Javier GutiƩrrez, Nieve de Medina, Isabel Blanco, Carmen Rossi, Ivan Martin

Year: 2006

Runtime: 96 minutes

Country: Spain


Viva 2007

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