Wednesday, January 30, 2013

As Luck Would Have It—Need It Like a Hole in the Head

Roberto Gómez never demonstrated much talent for the advertising business, having only had one notable success with a slogan for Coca Cola.  He is also rather awkward socially.  Not surprisingly, when times got lean, his firm let him go.  With Europe mired in economic doldrums, his long-term unemployment is undermining his finances and self-esteem.  In desperation, he seeks to capitalize on a freak accident in Álex de la Iglesia’s roundly disappointing As Luck Would Have It (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York at the IFC Center.

Gómez has one thing going for him: his wife, Luisa.  She duly tries to buck up his confidence before a rare interview, even though they both know it is futile.  Depressed by his inevitable failure, Gómez makes his way to Cartagena, where they spent their honeymoon back in the day.  Through a forced sequence of events, Gómez falls off a scaffold, impaling the back of his head on an iron spike.

With the EMS uncertain how to move Gómez without causing a fatal loss of blood, he finds himself trapped in the construction zone, resembling a crucifix.  As the media swarms around him, Gómez senses an opportunity.  Acquiring a bottom-feeding agent, he tries to sell exclusive rights to his story.  For the sake of his dignity and well-being, Luisa tries to dissuade him, but Gómez is content to trade both for his family’s financial security.

Smart, sophisticated, and tragic, Luck’s Luisa is a great role for Salma Hayek.  It is hard to understand what she is doing with a schlub like Gómez though.  Still, she is about all the film has going for it.  Subtlety certainly is not one of its virtues.  Randy Feldman’s screenplay is so eager to deemed au courant, it is frankly rather pathetic.  Dramatically, Luck is also quite flat.  Never throwing in any twists, turns, or reversals of fortune, it is always blindingly obvious where it will all end.  As a result, the film is about twenty percent set-up and eighty percent endgame.  That is just punishing, regardless of subject matter.

Spanish TV actor José Mota is pretty darn cringy as Gómez, which was clearly the intention.  The interchangeable battery of reporters, lawyers, and politicians are all indistinguishably sleazy.  Aside from Hayek, only Eduardo Casanova makes any sort of impression as Gómez’s rebellious punker son, Lorenzo.

Unlike the operatic madness of Iglesia’s The Last Circus, his latest effort to reach our shores is predictable and laborious.  Far too self-important and heavy handed, the entire enterprise falls flat.  Have a Coke and smile and skip As Luck Would Have It when it opens Friday (2/1) at the IFC Center.