A low-grade combination of "It's a Wonderful Life" and "After Hours," Miguel Bardem's lively but threadbare "Twelfth Night" has the helmer failing to capitalize on the promise he showed with his debut, "The Ugliest Woman in the World."

A low-grade combination of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “After Hours,” Miguel Bardem’s lively but threadbare “Twelfth Night” has the helmer failing to capitalize on the promise he showed with his debut, “The Ugliest Woman in the World.” Though visually appealing and featuring decent perfs which blend the real and grotesque, script is just too tired, a fact the plethora of special effects fails to conceal. At home, this commercial venture preemed alongside Christmas’titanic Hollywood imports and duly sank; given its seasonal flavor, tube sales and video are its likeliest future destinations.

Ernesto Cuspineda (Joaquin Climent) runs an air-conditioning factory about to be saved by a deal with the Japanese. Everything goes wrong at the celebration party: Ernesto’s wife, Lucia (Kity Manver), discovers he’s having an affair with his secretary (Melani Olivares); and his teen daughter, Marta (Elsa Pataky), turns out to be pregnant. All this is interwoven with subplots about two overweight Santa Clauses trying to make a fast buck and three wise men who are thieves. Lensing is sometimes terrific, especially in capturing the desolate outskirts of wintry Madrid. Music is laid on heavy.

Twelfth Night

Production

A Warner Sogefilms release of a Sogecine production, in association with Tele 5, Canal Plus. (International sales: Sogepaq, Madrid.) Produced by Gustavo Ferrada, Fernando Bovaira. Directed by Miguel Bardem. Screenplay, Bardem, Jaime Marques, Tomas Cimadevila, Andres Koppel.

Crew

Camera (color), Javier Salmones; editor, Ivan Aledo; music, Juan Bardem; art director, Enrique Melia. Reviewed at Cine Cite Mendez Alvaro, Madrid, Jan. 9, 2002. Original title: Noche de reyes. Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Joaquin Climent, Kity Manver, Elsa Pataky, Luna McGill, Melani Olivares, Fele Martinez.
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