It might have been an ideal project for a genuine surrealist filmmaker like Raul Ruiz, but the dull, woefully conventional biopic “Oscar: The Color of Destiny” stumbles its way through the roller-coaster life of Spanish painter Oscar Dominguez. The story is pallid enough, but director/co-writer Lucas Fernandez has the bad idea to parallel it with a ludicrous plot involving a contempo Madrid woman, overplayed by Victoria Abril. Despite the star power of Abril, Joaquim de Almeida and Jorge Perugorria, pic will be ignored in most theatrical territories.
After collapsing during her 40th birthday party, Ana (Abril) learns she has some kind of fatal neurological disease, giving her three months to live. Lazy, selfish b.f. Roman (Perugorria) is useless and unavailable, so gal pal Eva (Emma Suarez) fills the vacuum, which laughably includes getting Ana into bed.
Amid all of this, a suspicious-looking duo, claiming they’re organizing a centenary retro of surrealist master Dominguez, ask Ana about the whereabouts of a long-lost work by the painter. Is it in her home? At her folks’ place? In the Canary Islands, the artist’s native home?
With much effort, pic cuts between Ana’s dilemma and the life of Dominguez (de Almeida), feebly demonstrating they’re somehow cousins under the skin. The various beats in Dominguez’s story are ticked off in uninspired fashion, so even the threatening advance of Nazis before WWII and meetings and encounters with Picasso, Man Ray and Andre Breton (who, along with Dominguez, formed a key core of European surrealism from the 1920s to the 1940s) are as routine as one of Dominguez’s rolls in the sack with one comely bedmate or another.
Only Roma (Paola Bontempi) seems to capture his heart, and only here does de Almeida come fiercely alive as an actor in the manner he’s usually able to achieve. The fact that Dominguez suffered from elephantiasis is poorly realized onscreen, which itself is hardly a surprise given Fernandez’s apparent disinterest in the visual nature of surrealism. This disinterest extends to the title, softened from the original Spanish “Oscar: A Surrealist Passion.”