Basque writer-director Joseba Salegi’s low-budget oddity, “Ione, Fly Up to Heaven,” starts from a decent, if unoriginal, premise and then fails to capitalize on it, awkwardly mixing nun comedy, satire and social realism. Released in Basque Country in fall ’99 but only now screening in Madrid, “Ione” has done negligible business at home and looks likely to fly straight to the tube.
Message, incredibly, seems to be that movies and religion don’t mix. Small-time producer Inaki (Kike Diaz de Rada) has just broken up with temperamental wannabe actress Ione (Basque soap actress Anabel Arrainza) when he is hired by a religious order to make a film to entice youngsters to the religious life. Inaki’s director friend, Karlos (Martxelo Rubio), who has also slept with Ione, is horrified at first, but eventually joins the project — only to find his overblown creative instincts censored at every turn by a priest (Mario Pardo). The dialogue is ponderously explicit, the rhythm is painfully slow and repetitive, and the mood swings from farce to brooding and back, with thesps obviously at a loss how to play it.