Spain | 2013 | 85 min.
Director: Alejandro Marzoa
Spanish with English subtitles
Suso (Paco Tous) and Manuel (Miguel de Lira) are middle-aged friends living in Galicia who, whenever they head to their favorite fishing spot, find the tide is sinking and the fishing has dried up. The same can be said for their lives in general, along with the Spanish economy. Suso has lost his newspaper stand, and his father-in-law considers him a disgrace. Meanwhile, Manuel’s once lucrative construction company is on the verge of bankruptcy.
During one evening of fishing, fed up with having to walk away empty-handed, the two friends jump into an old rowboat and head out on the river. In another symbolic twist, the boat is riddled with holes, and it eventually takes on water and sinks. Suso and Manuel wash up on the beach where they find a package containing 10 kilos of cocaine, the value of which Manuel estimates at about $275,000. They soon learn their discovery is worth nearly $700,000, and that it’s much more popular among their fellow gallegos than they anticipated.
The plot gets a bit madcap when Suso and Manuel decide to sell the stuff and the two delve into a world populated by coked-up junkies, coked-up dealers and a coked-up crooked cop, the last of which happens to be Manuel’s future son-in-law (Unaz Ugalde). The chance for a way out of desperate times, despite the legality, corrupts the two men and threatens to destroy their friendship and families. Suso is forced to come clean to his wife (Marisol Membrillo), who can’t believe her gentle, pudgy husband would sink so low. Manuel degenerates into a Gollum character, threatening anyone who gets between him and selling the cocaine. In the end, the police get involved and people go to jail.
I won’t spoil too much of the ending for you, but I’ll just point out that Here’s the Deal is a dramedy; the movie ends on an upbeat, though not entirely. The two friends are still fishing; their bucket, still empty.
The film displays a beautiful mixture of seriousness, sadness, suspense and silliness. You really feel for Suso, a good and loving family man who’s simply down on his luck. There’s one truly heartbreaking scene with his wife. The other involves his manic best friend Manuel, to whom he is a perfect straight man. Ugalde plays a genuinely unlikable character.
Director Alejandro Marzoa aptly likened the film to Breaking Bad during a Q&A session after the screening, though I’d add that Here’s the Deal has much funnier moments and addresses the more serious and sympathetic issue of economic crisis, specifically the disintegration of the middle class experienced in Europe and the United States.
Its beautiful cinematography and strong plot, with twists and laughs and heartache, make Here’s the Deal undoubtedly one of the best movies at this year’s Chicago Latino Film Festival.
Here’s the Deal (Somos gente honorada) will be shown on April 16, 8:30 p.m. at AMC River East 21.
[Photo: Chicago Latino Film Festival]