A too-rare incursion by Spanish film into the coarse realities of multiculturalism on its cities' outskirts, "The One-Handed Trick" has a crudely makeshift feel that suits its subject.

A too-rare incursion by Spanish film into the coarse realities of multiculturalism on its cities’ outskirts, “The One-Handed Trick” has a crudely makeshift feel that suits its subject. Pic features a striking perf by hip-hop singer Juan Manuel Montilla “Langui” as a wannabe musician, the pivotal figure in a gallery of embittered social strugglers who deliver an unsubtle but effective portrait of life on the edge. Fests with a taste for urban social criticism could bite.

Cuajo (Montilla, a cerebral palsy sufferer — the name derives from the Spanish for “tadpole”) wants to set up a recording studio with friend Adolfo (Ovono Candela), but funds are lacking. They quickly find themselves in trouble, especially when Cuajo’s brother Galleta (Elio Toffana) is discovered to have stolen from petty criminal tough-guy Marquitos (Juan Navarro). Thesps are nonpros, but inhabit their roles to the fullest, with Montilla delivering an explosive perf as he hauls his broken body from frustration to frustration, struggling to remain honorable. Pic feels most authentic when the protags are railing against one another and the world, but fails when it occasionally aims at reflection. The score is inevitably hip-hop heavy.

The One-Handed Trick

Spain

Production

A Media Films production with the participation of TVE. (International sales: Media Films, Barcelona.) Executive producers, Luis de Val, Aitana de Val. Directed, written by Santiago A. Zannou.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Albert Pascual; editor, Jaume Marti, music, Woulfrank Zannou. Reviewed on DVD at San Sebastian Film Festival (Zabaltegi New Directors), Sept. 25, 2008. Original title: El truco del manco. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Juan Manuel Montilla "Langui," Ovono Candela, Javier Iglesias "Gordo," Elio Toffana, Mala Rodríguez, Juan Navarro.
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