Burning with hip effects and style but cooled down by a banal storyline, tyro helmer Carlos Salces’ “Lefty” is an empty-headed dazzler that reps the side of Mexican cinema lusting only after the youth market. Blanca Montaya’s and Salces’ script replaces the dusty chestnut of the tragic boxer forced by bad guys to go down for the count with a young marbles player who’s aces with his left-handed shot. But, pic’s distracting eye candy can’t hide its old-fashioned heart. Disappointing Mexican B.O. last February will subdue greater Ibero-American interest, but vid round should score points in various markets.
A fantastic series of microscopic, “Hulk”-like moving shots through marbles that opens the film sets up viewer expectations for a more adventurous and rapturous entertainment than “Lefty” becomes.
A semi-apocalyptic mining town called Buenaventura is depicted as an alienating post-industrial web of alleys and dusty pathways that stand in high contrast to the boyish antics of El Zurdo (Alex Perea) and his buddies, including Millito (Giovani Florido).
All Zurdo knows is that he loves shooting marbles, but the adults in his midst view him as some kind of cash cow who can be exploited in a match game with a fearsome competitor known only as “The Wizard.” For the flimsiest of reasons — something about getting out of this hick town for good — Buenaventura’s top cop, Commandante Romo (Alejandro Camacho) aims to take the winnings by forcing Zurdo to lose.
The story’s familiarity becomes deadening after awhile, making Salces’ obvious excitement about having a decent budget, loads of effects to toy with and an extremely tasty color palette (lenser Chuy Chavez’s desaturated images are wonderful to behold) feel like a waste of cinematic devices. There’s a political dimension to Romo’s domination of Buenaventura, yet even this is trivialized in the end.
Camacho goes for a fiercer, hipper version of Snidely Whiplash, while Perea strives to keep Zurdo’s boyish heroism center screen, but the awesome tech package tends to swamp him and nearly everyone else.