Review: ‘Gang of the Jotas’

Designed as a low-budget experiment to recapture the fun of making movies, Marjane Satrapi's "Gang of the Jotas" is a digital "What's Up, Doc?" wannabe of minimal pretensions and minor interest. Little more than a well-made homemovie, the pic feels like a "let's put on a show" venture in Spain, with Satrapi and friends doing double duty on and off the screen, channeling kooky caper comedies of yore. Most auds will prefer to pick up a timeless screwball and leave "Jotas" screenings for Satrapi's New Year's Eve parties, where such insider DIYers belong.

Designed as a low-budget experiment to recapture the fun of making movies, Marjane Satrapi’s “Gang of the Jotas” is a digital “What’s Up, Doc?” wannabe of minimal pretensions and minor interest. Little more than a well-made homemovie, the pic feels like a “let’s put on a show” venture in Spain, with Satrapi and friends doing double duty on and off the screen, channeling kooky caper comedies of yore. Most auds will prefer to pick up a timeless screwball and leave “Jotas” screenings for Satrapi’s New Year’s Eve parties, where such insider DIYers belong.

A classic mixed-up luggage scenario at the airport throws together a nutty woman (Satrapi) and gay couple Didier (Stephane Roche) and Nils (Mattias Ripa, Satrapi’s hubby). Her overpowering personality is hard to escape, and when she tells them her murdered sister’s Mafia husband is out to get her, they band together for protection, and soon, with her encouragement, to knock off a succession of characters whose names begin with the letter “J” (all played by Ali Mafakheri). Playful sequences can evoke smiles, but shots of the road as they travel south are deadening filler.

Gang of the Jotas

France

Production

A TAJ Prods. production. (International sales: Urban Distribution Intl., Montreuil, France.) Produced by Marjane Satrapi. Co-producer, Francois-Xavier Decraene. Directed, written by Marjane Satrapi.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Cristian Pirjol; editor, Stephane Roche; music, Denis Vautrin; production designer/costume designer, Satrapi; sound, Vautrin, Dominique Gaborieau; line producer, Mattias Ripa. Reviewed at Rome Film Festival (noncompeting), Nov. 15, 2012. Running time: 77 MIN.

With

Marjane Satrapi, Stephane Roche, Mattias Ripa, Ali Mafakheri, Maria de Medeiros, Cristian Pirjol.

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