Not unlike the rest of the world, Spain is experiencing tumultuous financial strife and, naturally, it’s on the artist to express this anxiety. Here director Alfonso Sanchez uses the crisis to frame his new comedy, EL MUNDO ES NUESTRO (THE WORLD IS OURS).
Bull’s Head and Sneaky are two Sevillians who decide to dress as holy penitents and rob a bank. They quickly discover they’ve picked the wrong day, though, as they struggle with a bizarre cast of hostages. EL MUNDO is a farce in every sense of the word. It’s very easy to imagine it playing out on stage, though not in a particularly good way. The characters all follow very strong stereotypes, and they play for laughs in the broadest way possible. Broad is the name of the game when it comes to EL MUNDO. The screening at ¡Viva! was packed out and the audience was in riotous laughter from beginning to end (a cynic might have wondered if this laughter was sycophantic, when considering that the film’s director was in the room). The jokes come thick and fast, matching the frenetic pace of the robbery and the increasingly bizarre situation the two robbers find themselves in; it’s just a shame that it’s not very funny.
…an overly broad, unoriginal farce, not lacking in heart but devoid of new ideas.
Beyond the misfiring of the comedy, the film offers nothing new in terms of its subtext. The comedy allows a confusing and serious financial crisis to be made more digestible, but it gives the viewer no real insight into the elements specific to Spain’s situation. It gives us hard-done-by blue collar workers, loveable rogues, corrupt bankers and government officials in guises no different to the tens of times we’ve seen them before. We have plenty of characters affected by a recession, from a man desperately trying to sign up for benefits whilst suspiciously wearing mucky work overalls to a young man with a genius level telecommunications intellect, who is reduced to shelf stacking. All of them though, despite these sometimes clever traits, fall into tried and tested traps that blunt what originality they might have had. EL MUNDO is reminiscent of the Will Ferrell vehicle, THE OTHER GUYS: a far funnier film, but come the end it tried to squeeze in a moral message about Wall Street corruption in order to give it some sort of real world heft. The film didn’t need this topical element, and if anything, it lessened its overall impact. In the case of EL MUNDO, had its political agenda been more subtle, it might have been more enjoyable.
There is no doubting the energy of the direction and performance in EL MUNDO, or the drive of its makers. In a Q and A session after the screening, the director said that they’d been issuing free tickets to the homeless and the unemployed in Spain, whose anger at their country’s instability was potent. The film, however, offers nothing truly insightful into the situation and is an overly broad, unoriginal farce; not lacking in heart but devoid of new ideas.