Preview by: Jack Foley
MEXICO continues to deliver some of the most exciting films of
the year, thanks, in no small part, to the continued allure of
two of its brightest stars.
Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal starred together in Y
Tu Mamá También and have since continued to
enjoy massive success in everything they have appeared in since.
Bernal is currently riding high in The
Motorcycle Diaries, while Luna has appeared in Hollywood productions,
Open Range and The
Terminal, as well as the awards-laden Mexican crime caper,
Nicotina, which opened in the States on August 20, 2004.
The film was Mexico's highest grossing film of 2003, and recently
dominated the 46th Ariel Awards, garnering six of Mexico's top
film prizes, including Best Actor (Rafael Inclán), Best
Actress (Rosa Maria Bianchi), Best Supporting Actor (Daniel Giménez
Cacho), Best Editing (Alberto de Toro), and Best Original Screenplay
It also topped the 2004 MTV Movie Awards Mexico, receiving five
out of the 15 awards, including Favourite Movie and Favourite
Actor (Diego Luna).
Nicotina is billed as a highly-stylised crime caper, set in Mexico
City, about a simple exchange that goes awry, causing the lives
of nine unsuspecting characters to explode in one night over a
fortune in diamonds.
Luna stars as computer hacker, Lolo,
who is infatuated with his neighbour, Andrea (Marta Belaustegui)
and catalogues her every move, via high-tech peeping devices.
Lolo teams with amateur criminals, Tomson (Jesús Ochoa),
and his younger counterpart, Nene (Lucas Crespi,) in a deal with
a Russian mobster (Norman Sotolongo) that involves the exchange
of diamonds for computer access to Swiss bank accounts.
But the deal goes terribly wrong after Lolo's attempts to spoil
Andrea's romantic trysts spiral out of control.
Down the street, the irritable pharmacist, Beto (Daniel Giménez
Cacho), and his fed-up wife, Clara (Carmen Madrid), inadvertently
become entangled in the exchange, along with the humble barber,
Goyo (Rafael Inclán) ,and his domineering other half, Carmen
(Rosa María Bianchi).
Infected with diamond lust, these characters become obsessed
with the possibility of an easy life and their greed quickly transforms
into fiery desperation. When the haze finally clears, computers
have been hacked, people have been whacked and lives have gone
up in a cloud of smoke.
Nicotina came about through the efforts of three long-time friends:
director, Hugo Rodriguez (In the Middle of Nowhere), producer,
Laura Imperiale (The Crime
of Father Amaro), and screenwriter, Martin Salinas (Gaby,
A True Story), all Argentines working for decades in the Mexican
film industry, but never with each other.
"What moves me about the story is that all the characters
are trying to take advantage of a situation and yet it continues
to elude them," says Salinas. "It's about the ridiculous
amount of effort that these characters put forth to overcome their
destiny and think they can control it."
The film opened to a mixed reaction from US critics.