Gen-X novelist Ray Loriga makes his helming debut with “My Brother’s Gun,” a languid Hispanic reprise of pics such as “Kalifornia” and “Natural Born Killers.” Though this is the best Spanish youth movie of its kind to date, and is beautifully shot and edited, the thematically hollow “Gun” has considerably more style than substance. It should, however, satisfy the desires of under-25s with arthouse inclinations, at whom it is clearly aimed.
“It’s not that I’m lazy,” says the 17-year-old Young Man (sleepy-eyed Daniel Gonzalez). “It’s just that I have nothing to do.” Which is about as far as pic gets in explaining why he shoots a security guard in the face for wrongfully accusing him of stealing a comic book. Outside the mall, he steals a car in which the Girl (Nico Bidasolo, a younger Beatrice Dalle look-alike) is sitting. She has attempted suicide and likes the fact that the murder will make him famous. The two are made for each other, and the rest of the film charts their escape from the law, represented by the world-weary Inspector (Karra Elejalde).
Top Spanish d.p. Jose Luis Alcaine makes the picture a visual treat. Witty shots of supermarket food, or of the Young Man and the Girl as they frolic in the grass, stand out. Editing is appealingly busy, too, with head shots of commentators presented in aquasi-documentary style.
But the dialogue, meant to suggest the emptiness of teenage lives, soon starts to sound merely banal. (“It’s cool that someone dies after sleeping with you,” the Girl observes.) Pic eventually ends up — and slows down — in a bizarre house on the coast where weirdo couple Juanito (Viggo Mortensen) and Alicia (Christina Rosenvinge, Loriga’s real-life partner) are living their own empty lives.
Dozens of refs to U.S. pop culture reveal Loriga as an Americana fetishist par excellence: A stronger sense of place would have helped the movie. Loriga also shows no interest in why his characters are the way they are or in giving the film that unstylish thing, a moral.
Elejalde gets the best lines as the only character even slightly able to articulate the emptiness of his life, and brings some much-needed black comedy to things. Anna Galiena, as the failed Mother, looks lost. The score, a mixture of ’90s rock and Velvet Underground–inspired Rosenvinge originals, is terrific.