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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 10.02.12] Spain comedy drama

When it comes to satire, few directors are better than Alex de la Iglesia. The Spaniard has a knack for exploiting situations in unusual ways that say something more about society and his latest is a darkly hilarious look at the culture of celebrity.

As Luck Would Have It stars Jose Mota as Roberto, an advertising executive who has been struck hard by the down turn in the economy. Almost bankrupt and unable to find work, he calls up an old friend in search of employment but the meeting goes badly and Jose leaves angry and deflated. He takes a detour in hopes of booking the hotel where he and his wife spent their honeymoon, one last ditch attempt to find some happiness before his world goes to the dogs, but finds that the building has been torn down and replaced by a museum that is still under construction. A series of unfortunate choices end with Jose lying in the middle of an incomplete classic amphitheatre at the centre of his own very personal Greek tragedy (or comedy depending on how you look at it): his head is impaled on an iron rod and moving him will likely lead to his death.

A media gong show ensues and in the midst of this, Jose realizes that this is the perfect opportunity to make some money. He hires a publicist and begins negotiations to sell his story in hopes of cashing in before the public loses interest or before the doctors move him. What unfolds is a frenzy of events as Jose and his publicist try to negotiate the best deal for an interview while Jose's wife Luisa (Salma Hayek) tries to convince him to forget about being a star and concentrate on staying alive.

It's a ridiculous set-up and once Jose becomes impaled, As Luck Would Have It loses some of the goodwill it created with the likable Jose. He begins as an everyman caught in a bad situation and soon we see him as a greedy individual willing to do almost anything for a buck. This is part of the de la Iglesia's intent, showing that everyone has that seed of greed inside but at the same time, we're also presented with Luisa who is completely unwilling to participate in the exploitation of her husband and family for money.

As Luck Would Have It is not as cynical as some of de la Iglesia's previous work and it doesn't go far enough to really makes us rethink either the media or the people who make it. And yet it offers up a hugely entertaining bit of often very dark comedy. Throw in great performances from both leads, particularly Mota who is on screen and incapable of moving his body for most of the movie's running time, and As Luck Would Have It is a solid little comedy which continuously pokes at some bigger issues.

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