Cien años de perdon – To steal from a thief 

The annual VIVA Spanish and Latin American Film Festival swung into life this evening at HOME with a feature and a short, both of which were reminiscent of classic films from decades past, yet which also stood up very firmly in their own right. They are also linked by a theme.

The short, Nini, is clearly influenced in tone by Jules Dassin’s Rififi, with a silent heist at its centre. The economic situation in Spain is the reason the group is compelled to steal to improve their lives – we see at the end that their ill-gotten gains are put to sensible, positive use, and don’t get the impression that they are career criminals. It was tense, funny and clever, and (with the exception of the last few minutes) entirely dialogue free.

The main feature, Cien años de perdon, also features a heist, this time in the form of a bank robbery. The hapless crooks find their plans thwarted by heavy rain, and although Dog Day Afternoon is set in the New York heat, it is reminiscent at times of the same shambolic atmosphere.

It’s made very clear from the start that the bank’s customers are victims of both Spain’s economic hardship and the ruthless operations of financial institutions, and in fact robbing the bank of its money is not the prime motivator for the criminals. We see them do good things for the customers who they hold hostage for a time, and learn about political corruption among government representatives high up in the country’s ruling elite.

It’s no surprise then that, part way through the movie, I found myself kind of wanting them to succeed at their crime – they’re not perfect people by any stretch, but it didn’t seem fair if they weren’t allowed to get away with it. It helped that four good performances gave credence (and humour) to some of the gang – Luis Tosar and Rodrigo De la Serna in particular.

You’ll need to see the film for yourself to find out who (if anyone) escapes judgement – and it’s funnier than this trailer suggests!

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