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Crazy Heart

Though energetically played by a dependable cast, with occasional sparks between leads Juanjo Puigcorbe and Cristina Marcos, the screwball comedy "Crazy Heart" won't raise many offshore pulses.

With:
Felix - Juanjo Puigcorbe Lola - Cristina Marcos Emilio - Joaquin de Almeida Cecilia - Beatriz Carvajal Nuria - Anabel Alonso

Though energetically played by a dependable cast, with occasional sparks between leads Juanjo Puigcorbe and Cristina Marcos, the screwball comedy “Crazy Heart” won’t raise many offshore pulses. Antonio del Real’s third pic is clearly inspired by Billy Wilder but ends up more like Benny Hill. The high failure rate in comic strikes and the lack of knowingness are unlikely to guarantee even a decent home reception, with quick sales to video pic’s likeliest fate. A bad omen is even contained in the press book, which lets slip that Puigcorbe apologized to del Real for not having given 100% during shooting.

Felix (an efficient Puigcorbe) is a thirtyish, Madrid-based real estate salesman who is unhappily attached to g.f. Nuria (Anabel Alonso). His boss Emilio (Portuguese thesp Joaquin de Almeida) is having an affair with determined career girl Lola (Marcos). Emilio’s wife, Cecilia (Beatriz Carvajal), happens along while Lola is giving Emilio a gift, and Felix pretends to be Lola’s boyfriend to get his boss out of trouble.

Having established its comic premise, pic fails to come up with any twists, instead relying on a series of cliched situations that are redeemed only by the desperate energy of the cast. There’s a hair-raising nighttime drive with an angry woman behind the wheel; a restaurant meal during which Felix has to hide under a dancer’s skirts when Nuria unexpectedly turns up; and a public argument in a museum. The various personal and professional relationships suffer ups and downs, with Lola unable to break from scumbag Emilio.

Two-hour pic would benefit from a half-hour trim. Marcos’ perf as the stubborn pro with a tender heart is the best thing about it, and consolidates a career as one of Spain’s best young comediennes. She combines winsome vulgarity with subtle nuancing, and extracts much more from this thin material than expected.

Script by Fernando Leon (“Family”) and Carlos Asorey regularly topples into clumsy overstatement, and dialogue is such that even a comic actor of Puigcorbe’s experience has to ham desperately. Lensing is workmanlike, and the score is intermittently pretty.

Crazy Heart

Production: A Lider Films release (in Spain) of an Origen PC/Aurum production in association with Antena 3 TV and Canal Plus Spain. (International sales: Origen, Madrid.) Produced by Antonio Cardenal. Directed by Antonio del Real. Screenplay, Fernando Leon, Carlos Asorey.

With: Felix - Juanjo Puigcorbe Lola - Cristina Marcos Emilio - Joaquin de Almeida Cecilia - Beatriz Carvajal Nuria - Anabel AlonsoCamera (color), Tote Trenas; editor, Miguel Angel Santamaria; music, Pablo Miyar; art director, Ion Arreche; sound (Dolby), Juan Borrell; associate producers, Fernando de Garcillan, Antonio Saura. Reviewed at Fotogramas Theater, Madrid, April 18, 1997. (In Cannes Film Festival -- market.) Running time: 121 MIN.

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