July 5 2002

Bendito Infierno

By Pablo de Sainz

According to the new movie — and new box office success in Tijuana’s movie theatres— “Bendito Infierno.” In heaven, angels speak French; in hell, demons speak English; and, here on earth, lost and sinful humans speak, well, Spanish.

“Bendito Infierno” (or as it’s known in Spain, “Sin Noticias de Dios”) is a Spanish/Italian production, with a multilingual and international cast, with stars and actors from Spain and Mexico.

Can you imagine these actors and actresses together in a movie? Here’s the list: Victoria Abril, the most popular Amodovar Girl; Penélope Cruz, the Spaniard who has conquered Hollywood; Demián Bichir, one of the most important actors of the new cinema in Mexico; and, lastly, Gael García Bernal, the sex symbol who became famous with “Amores Perros” and “Y Tu Mamá También.”

What a list. What a cast. Wow.

And, better yet, “Bendito Infierno” meets all expectations. The story is somewhat unreal: heaven, where only French is spoken, is getting empty. Hell, where only English is spoken, is overcrowded, and there’s no more space to put those sinner souls.

But heaven has a hope: A woman on earth has asked angels to save her son’s soul, boxer Manny Chávez, played by Bichir. Since for heaven each soul means a success, heaven’s director, Marina D’Angelo (Fanny Ardant) orders (in French) her best agent, Lola Nevado, played by Abril, to go down to earth, and take the roll of Manny’s wife to save his soul.

Hell, even with its over population problems, sends agent Carmen Ramos (Penélope Cruz) to try to defeat heaven, and keep the boxer’s soul. Gael García Bernal, in a small role, plays Hell’s delegate; without a doubt, this isn’t his best role.

The movie, directed by Spain’s Agustín Díaz Yanes “Nadie hablará de nosotras cuando estemos muertas”), develops in a running way, where Díaz gives a crazy view of what he believes to be heaven and hell. (As a funny fact, heaven is always filmed in black and white.)

So, Lola The Angel and Carmen The Demon enter the messed up life of Manny: Everything is a real hell for many, because, in addition to not being able to fight again because of a bad punch to his head, a gangster sends his bodyguard to kill him for a money he owns him.

Angel and Demon struggle for Manny’s soul, but without using magical powers, instead using goodness and forgiveness on one stop, and temptation and evil on the other. But everything in a funny way and excellent dialogues.

The three protagonists, Abril, Cruz and Bichir, play their characters with great power. Abril retakes her privilege place in Spanish cinema; Cruz proves she’s a good actress and that she shouldn’t be in Hollywood; and Bichir tells us that Mexican talent is present in new films.

“Bendito Infierno” is a comedy with a cast of sinners who laugh at everything sacred. If this movie were a soul fighting between good and evil, it would go straight to purgatory” A perfect balance of hot comedy and evil cast that’ll make you burn in laughter.

This movie is playing in several theatres in Tijuana, including Cinepolis Plaza Río. It hasn’t opened in San Diego yet.

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