Dejate caer

"Dejate caer" has little except the wit, warmth and believability of its characters to recommend it -- but there's more than enough of that to keep pic dancing.

With: Ivan Massague, Dario Paso, Juanfra Juarez, Pilar Crespo, Mercedes Hoyos, Isabel Ampudia, Ana Cuesta, Fanny De Castro, Benito Pocino, Jesus Carroza.

A refreshing if rough-hewn comedy about the non-lives of three slackers in a Seville suburb, “Dejate caer” has little except the wit, warmth and believability of its characters to recommend it — but there’s more than enough of that to keep pic dancing. Sharply observed low-budgeter has no plot to speak of and is an eyesore, but the script’s ability to find the humanity at the heart of its no-hopers and its refusal to beat the social-critique drum lift it above much more slickly turned fare. Pic has struggled at home since Feb. 1 release but more than merits fest attention.

Grabi (Ivan Massague), Nandi (Dario Paso) and Roberto Carlos (Juanfra Juarez) are three unemployed buddies in their early 30s who still live at home — an entirely normal situation in Spain. They seem to belong nowhere except with each other, spending their days sitting on a street bench and having increasingly surreal conversations as the bottles of beer go down.

Roberto Carlos is having a go-nowhere fling with the shop’s owner, Mercedes (Mercedes Hoyos), while Grabi is unhappy about his sister’s (Ana Cuesta) relationship with a local tough guy, the wonderfully named Kevin Manuel (Jesus Carroza). Roberto Carlos meets Sunci (Pilar Crespo), and Kevin Manuel gives Grabi a severe battering, leaving Nandi to develop a friendship with the lonely son of his neighbor, Isabel (Isabel Ampudia).

Thesps are not top-flighters, but writer-director Ponce turns their freshness to good dramatic account. Some characters are way over-the-top but remain plausible (at least for Spanish viewers), as theatrical behavior is a natural part of Seville life. Standout thesps include Fanny De Castro as Roberto Carlos’ mother and the extraordinary-looking Benito Pocino as Nandi’s porn-consuming father.

It all adds up to a portrait of a battered but defiant community taking its few pleasures where it can find them. What really makes pic work is the dialogue: Ponce has a terrific ear for the way these people continually badmouth one another, especially those to whom they are closest. Dialogue is also full of native Andalucian wit — “I spend more on my phone bill than an astronaut’s mother,” complains one character.

Script occasionally comes close to schmaltz, and a couple plotlines fizzle out to nothing. Visuals offer a downbeat, naturally lit view of Seville that’s the opposite of the usual flamenco-and-frills vision of Andalucia.

Music alternates between hard punk and unpolished but melodic guitar-based fare. Dialogue is sometimes too heavily accented for even Spanish-speaking auds to follow. Pic has yet to receive an official English title; Spanish one literally means “Let Yourself Fall.”

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Dejate caer


Production: An Alta Films release of a Jaleo Films, Bailando en la Luna, Cinefex Factor, Vaca Films, Basque Films production, with participation of Canal Sur, TeleMadrid, RTVV, TVG, ETB, TV Canarias, RTV Castilla-La Mancha. (International sales: Alta, Madrid.) Executive producers, Alvaro Alonso, Fernando De Garcillan. Directed, written by Jesus Ponce.

Crew: Camera (color), Daniel Sosa; editor, Fernando Franco; music, Juan Canton; art director, Pepe Dominguez; sound (Dolby Digital), Daniel de Zayas, Nacho R. Arenas. Reviewed at Cines Princesa, Madrid, Feb. 13, 2008. Running time: 106 MIN.

With: With: Ivan Massague, Dario Paso, Juanfra Juarez, Pilar Crespo, Mercedes Hoyos, Isabel Ampudia, Ana Cuesta, Fanny De Castro, Benito Pocino, Jesus Carroza.

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