Adoomed-love-triangle story distinguished by the dignity brought to its loser protagonists, "Lucky Star" initially appears headed toward violent confrontation. Instead, it focuses unexpectedly on the capacity of its characters to overcome their differences, to connect and offer mutual support in difficult circumstances. Ricardo Franco's melancholy, often moving drama should obtain some festival play, as well as theatrical dates in Spanish-language territories. Having lived a solemn, solitary life since a work-related accident robbed him of his manhood some years earlier, mild-mannered butcher Rafael (Antonio Resines) breaks his rule about keeping to himself when he sees a young woman, Marina (Maribel Verdu), being roughed up by her lover Daniel (Jordi Molla). Taking Marina home, Rafael learns that she and Daniel both grew up parentless in tough environments and that she is carrying his child.

Marina responds to Rafael’s kindness and makes him feel whole again. They set up house together, cultivating the dream of a normal existence that has eluded them both. Daniel turns up a few years later, when the couple are happily settled with his daughter, Estrella. He has no use for the ties of fatherhood and family, but needs a place to stay. Marina’s deep-rooted bond to the volatile Daniel creates tension, but Rafael endures the situation, not wanting to lose his family.

Based on real characters and events, the sensitive script by director Franco and Angeles Gonzalez Sinde gives credibility to Marina’s love of both men for different reasons, and to the characters’ confusion in facing difficult choices. The tiresome Latino preoccupation with masculinity — Rafael’s castration, Daniel’s being broken by tougher men in prison — is perhaps dramatically antiquated. But the dynamics of the trio shift in interesting ways, particularly when Daniel is released from prison with AIDS, and Rafael cares for him while Marina struggles to accept his impending death.

Franco directs in a sober, unobtrusive style, and aside from occasional overplaying from Molla, the cast is intense and sympathetic.

Lucky Star

Spanish - French - Italian

Production

An Alta Films release (in Spain) of a Pedro Costa Producciones Cinematografias, Enrique Cerezo (Spain)/MAT Films (France)/GA & A (Italy) production, with participation of Television Espanola. (International sales: Intra Films, Rome.) Produced by Enrique Cerezo, Pedro Costa. Executive producer, Pedro Costa. Directed by Ricardo Franco. Screenplay, Franco, Angeles Gonzalez Sinde

Crew

Camera (color), Tote Trenas; editor, Esperanza Cobos; music, Eva Gancedo; art direction, Juan Botella; costume design, Lala Huete; sound (Dolby Digital), Miguel Rejas. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 16, 1997. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Rafael ..... Antonio Resines Marina ..... Maribel Verdu Daniel ..... Jordi Molla Ana Mari ..... Elvira Minguez Paco ..... Ramon Barea Elena ..... Clara Sanchis
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