An otherwise talented cast is gored by a clunky script and clumsy filmmaking in "Semana Santa," an English-lingo botch set in contempo Seville during Easter Week.

An otherwise talented cast is gored by a clunky script and clumsy filmmaking in “Semana Santa,” an English-lingo botch set in contempo Seville during Easter Week. Some loon in a red pointy-hooded penitent’s cloak is performing ritual murders, stabbing victims bullfighter style. Despite quasi-serious motives anchored in the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, tale feels almost completely arbitrary, and is further undermined by a misguided spooky score and tacked on voiceover. This is TV filler and vidbin fare.

Melancholy police detective Maria Delgado (Mira Sorvino) transfers from Madrid just in time for a grisly case. Dona Catalin (Alida Valli) discovers maggots feasting on the bodies of gay artist-cum-sadist brothers upstairs. Two cops (Olivier Martinez, Feodor Atkine) take turns arriving on cue to get injured or perform random rescues until the (telegraphed) evil mastermind is unmasked. Local color is plentiful and violence is splashy but scripter’s ear for dialogue is solid tin. Real-life sweethearts Sorvino and Martinez are required to snipe at each other crudely and with minimal conviction. Only Valli, as the last member of a proud Spanish family dating back seven centuries, emerges with her actorly dignity intact.

Semana Santa

Germany-U.K.-France

Production

A Gaumont Buena Vista Intl. release (in France) of a Christoph Meyer-Wiel, Paul Berrow and Philippe Guez presentation of a Schlemmer Film (Germany)/Wandering Star (U.K.)/Evidence Films (France) production, in association with Senator Film Produktion, Poetiche Cinematografiche, Les Productions La Fierra, Corrupia, M&M Prods., with participation of Filmforderung Hamburg, RAI Cinema, Spa Filmversicherung, Gerling, Stadtsparkasse Koln. (International sales: UGC Intl., Paris.) Produced by Christoph Meyer-Wiel, Paul Berrow, Philippe Guez. Executive producers, Michael Berrow, Marcello Anciano. Co-producers, Leo Pescarolo, Antonio Saura, Tivi Magnusson. Directed by Pepe Danquart. Screenplay, Roy Mitchell, based on the novel by David Hewson.

Crew

Camera (color), Ciro Capellari; editors, Peter R. Adam, Joelle Hache; music, Andrea Guerra; art director, William Abello; costume designer, Esther Walz. Reviewed at Studio Galande, Paris, July 7, 2002. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Mira Sorvino, Olivier Martinez, Feodor Atkine, Alida Valli, Luis Tosar, Jorge Bosch, Peter Berling, Fermin Reixach.
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