Star rating - 5/10
I love the annual festival of Spanish and Latin American film at the Cornerhouse that is Viva!, now in its 19th year. Each year I look forward to a marvellously varied programme of drama, zombies, capers, and romance in Spanish or Portuguese, and think this is exactly the sort of programming art house cinemas should do more of, but which I fear the Cornerhouse will be tempted to do less of, especially when it moves to its new purpose built home in the not too distant future. The film picked for the gala opening night is usually a cracker, but I'm sorry to say that this year it was more of a whimper.
¡Atraco! (Hold Up!) was inspired by actual events, in the shape of a jewellery robbery in 1950's Madrid. It starts off as a comedic heist caper, involving the improbable plot of pawning of Eva Peron's jewels, in part to prevent General Franco's wife getting her hands of them. But it's tone completely changes as it switches to a film noir thriller, then to a quite violent and bloody conclusion, which is anything but amusing.
It is interesting how comedy is different across cultures - I just didn't understand what the Spanish members of the audience were finding simply hilarious in several places, for example. But unfortunately this film felt overlong, overcomplicated, and undecided about which genre of film it was trying to be. It ended up a confusing and rather unsatisfactory, albeit beautiful looking piece, with a Spanish Mad Men feel to it involving a cast of unfeasibly attractive actors. Never mind, I won't give up on Viva!, and I look forward to sampling more of its delights over the next few weeks.