Review: 70 Big Ones
by Alfonso Rivera
- The characters in Koldo Serra’s zesty, tense and rhythmic film about a robbery have fun, surprise us and make us laugh in some rather extreme situations
After a rather splendid debut with Backwoods [+see also:
film profile] – in which the director displayed his passion for action films, drama and 1970s American violence, such as Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs or John Boorman's Deliverance – and the somewhat flawed yet ambitious historical war film Gernika [+see also:
film profile], it’s a joy to see Koldo Serra rediscover his energy and capacity for impact in his third feature, 70 Big Ones [+see also:
interview: Koldo Serra
film profile], without neglecting the rhythm and entertainment of his first film. To clarify, the film's Spanish title (70 binladens) refers to those somewhat sporadic €500 notes that no one ever seems to be able to get their hands on, and comes from a screenplay written by Asier Guerricaechevarría, Javier Echániz and Juan Gil Bengoa, which the Basque director successfully adapted into one of the most admired and celebrated films to be screened at Sitges Film Festival in 2018.
Revealing that the film is about a bank robbery is hardly a spoiler, as the crime takes place in the first few minutes. What happens next in 70 Big Ones, however, with its numerous, well-executed twists and turns that keep the adrenaline running high, leaves the audience gasping (and smiling) as the action unfolds at a bank branch and in an adjacent square in Bilbao, with its tall grey tower blocks.
As Serra stated in his interview with Cineuropa, he was inspired by 1970s American thrillers in the making of his new film, to which he gives a decidedly Spanish feel, a certain amount of humanity and some (absurdist) humour, which serves to lighten the film's dramatic load and acts as a commentary on Spain's "every man for himself!" attitude, something that’s etched into the film's very core. But above all, 70 Big Ones is a funny film that dominates its setting – taking place largely indoors – thus maintaining its energy and capacity for surprise.
But it wouldn’t be appropriate to conclude this review without mentioning this pleasurable film’s splendid cast, which brings to life a group of characters who we can’t help but love, despite their abundant misery. The film stars Emma Suárez, who isready for anything, Dani Pérez Prada as a policeman with whom the audience identifies wholeheartedly and, above all, Nathalie Poza (winner of the Goya Award for Best Actress two years ago for Can't Say Goodbye [+see also:
interview: Lino Escalera
film profile]), who delivers a brilliant performance as a hardened woman with the appearance of a poor wounded animal.
Unax Mendia (Grand Piano [+see also:
interview: Eugenio Mira
film profile]) worked on 70 Big Ones as the director of photography, while its soundtrack was composed by Fernando Velázquez (The Invisible Guest [+see also:
film profile]). The film was produced by Sayaka Producciones, Pokeepsie Films and La Panda, which relied on the support of the ICAA and the participation of RTVE, ETB and Movistar+. The film is due to be released in Spain on 8 March thanks to Filmax.
(Translated from Spanish)
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