“Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh.” — Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
Roberto (José Mota) has been out of work for two years, and with his savings dwindling down to nothing, he tries to get a job at his old advertising firm. But the value he once brought the company means nothing now, and a humiliated Roberto leaves as unemployed as he was when he arrived. Despondent, Roberto decides to get away from the stress by driving to the hotel where he spent his honeymoon with his wife, Luisa (Salma Hayek, Frida). As luck would have it, the hotel has been demolished, and in its place is a museum, swarming with reporters covering the story of the ruins of an old Roman theater that was recently unearthed beneath it. While wandering around the site, Roberto ends up at the center of a media circus, and decides to use his new found fame to earn the money he believes will secure a future for the family he so dearly loves.
From the 1987 rescue of 18-month-old baby Jessica McClure, who fell into a well casing, to the dramatic saving in 2010 of 33 Chilean miners, when events like these occur often times it’s hard to tell where the news ends and good old fashioned morbid curiosity begins. In a day and age of live streaming, social networking, and 24 hour cable news; our most terrorizing moments can go viral in just a matter of minutes. Is this a good trend or not? The Spanish film As Luck Would Have It shows the downside of a media obsessed culture, and what it does to a normally honorable man in a very desperate situation.
Roberto is at a crux in his life, unemployed and aging out of a career occupied by a much younger workforce. We watch as he goes from a hopeful candidate when he leaves home that morning for his interview, to angry and frustrated when he’s discarded by his old employers, and finally we see a Roberto who has become a desperate man, seeking out attention from a hungry media and its audience. Mota’s metamorphosis is flawless, as well as heart breaking. His intentions from the very first frame of As Luck Would Have It are selfless; simply put, he wants to take care of his wife and children. Even though Roberto is a sympathetic character, he is also his own worst enemy — an anxious man who makes one bad decision after another.
Hayek does a splendid job as Luisa; she seems more comfortable and her efforts are not as forced when she’s acting in her native tongue. Luisa is strong and completely supportive of Roberto, his biggest champion who believes in him more than he does himself. And when his predicament brings out the media rats and two-bit charlatans looking to capitalize on his misfortunes, Luisa is there to keep the wolves at bay. In fact their relationship is what I like most about As Luck Would Have It. Their love is strong in the midst of all the chaos. Married many years, their affection for one another has matured and gotten better, not grown old and stagnant. In recent years, films rarely portray marriage with such admiration, and it is extremely powerful when set against the backdrop of a blood thirsty public and a headline driven journalistic establishment.
As the media circus amps up Roberto says, “It’s funny, this morning no one wanted to talk to me.” He believed that the attention gave him worth, but missed the fact that he was worth something to those who loved him long before the cameras showed up.
As Luck Would Have It has a nice 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation, which highlights the colorful beauty of Spain and its people. The film is a Spanish language production with English subtitles, the Dolby 5.1 Surround track is clean and clear, and the subtitles are thankfully very easy to read. As far as extras go, the only thing resembling a special feature on this DVD is the film’s trailer.
It would’ve been easy for As Luck Would Have It to come off as preachy, but Randy Feldman’s (Tango and Cash) screenplay emphasizes the love story of Roberto and Luisa, avoiding what could’ve been a heavy handed message movie.
As Luck Would Have It is a commentary on a day and age where fame and infamy are one in the same, where the public release of a sex tape isn’t considered embarrassing, but used to propel those with no other talents to the heights of celebrity. In the end it is a story of love and family, and shows that when those bonds are strong, nothing can break them.
What’s guilty about this flick? Nada!
As Luck Would Have It (DVD)
2013, MPI, 98 minutes, NR (2011)
VIDEO: 2.35:1 AUDIO: Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish) SUBTITLES: English (SDH), Spanish
EXTRAS: Trailer ACCOMPLICES: IMDB