"Comical Just Deserts"
The elaborate narrative structure made famous by Quentin Tarantino in his acclaimed comedy thriller PULP FICTION has its imitators. NICOTINA is a Mexican black comedy that perfectly captures that structure though it doesn’t have all the creative cinematic flourishes and patches of clever dialogue of PULP FICTION.
In the story, Lolo, a young computer hacker and peeping tom who spies on his sexy neighbor, Andrea, downloads access to some Swiss bank accounts for his two friends, who are selling the CD to two Russian gangster types for a load of diamonds. An argument with Andrea, who discovers Lolo’s voyeurism, causes Lolo to mix up the Swiss CD with one of his CDs of Andrea in a state of undress. Consequently, a sudden shootout between the Russians and Lolo’s two friends, Nene and Tomson, leaves one of the Russians dead, one wounded and Nene also wounded.
The wounded Russian escapes with the diamonds, but tries to hide in the barbershop he regularly visits, where he suddenly dies. The barber’s wife tries to convince her henpecked husband to cut open the Russian’s belly where she thinks the diamonds are located. Meanwhile, Tomson takes Nene to a female druggist having a crazy ongoing fight with her live-in boyfriend. A series of hilarious, dark events ensues where, one by one, all the bad guys get their just deserts.
NICOTINA is a funny, well-acted, well-scripted morality tale filled with heavy irony. It not only may remind moviegoers of Tarantino’s work, it also may remind them of the macabre humor in some of Alfred Hitchcock’s work (REAR WINDOW and THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY). It’s more of a continuous black comedy than Hitchcock, however, and less bloody and gruesome than Tarantino’s movie. There is a scene, however, showing the manicurists hands and forearms all bloody, from a distance, with an apparent gaping hole in the Russian’s stomach. NICOTINA also contains plenty of strong foul language.
Philosophically, there’s a running debate in the movie between Nene and Tomson about smoking, fate and causality. Nene, a smoker, thinks life is full of constant coincidences and getting lung cancer is just one of those coincidences, a bad twist of fate that only affects some smokers. Tomson, however, thinks the universe is full of cause and effect. He believes there are definite consequences to your actions, and, if you smoke, you increase your chances of an early death.
Some may argue that NICOTINA clearly shows the effect of Fate and Coincidence on these characters’ lives, especially Tomson’s, the night the story takes place. It seems clear, however, that the immoral actions and choices of the characters, and the nicotine habits of most of them, play a crucial role in creating the comical tragedies befalling them. Even so, bad things happen to both the smokers and non-smokers in the movie, so perhaps Nene is right after all in his defense of that unhealthy habit.
(B, C, Pa, LLL, VVV, S, N, D, MM) Light moral worldview, filled with dark comical irony where immoral people get their comeuppance, includes one character says “God bless you” and photo of Roman Catholic Christian Pope on wall, as well as pagan talk of fate and coincidence may be rebuked ultimately; at least 77 mostly strong obscenities, five strong profanities, man sits on toilet, and man gets sick in sink after he can’t do a gruesome act; very strong violence includes people shot dead with some blood, two men wounded in stomach, policeman murdered but killer eventually arrested, sound of explosion, woman sets fire to peeping tom’s secret CDs of her, man tries to cut open man’s stomach to get diamonds but gets sick, sounds of woman cutting open man’s stomach to get diamonds, and bloody images of woman’s hands and forearms while sitting near dead man who’s stomach she has cut open to get diamonds; sounds of fornication and discussion of woman’s adultery with married man and her promiscuity with other men; upper and rear male nudity; no alcohol; lots of smoking; and, lots of miscellaneous immorality such as computer hacker breaks into Swiss bank files, stealing, gangsterism, greed, voyeurism, and greedy woman tries to henpeck husband into committing a crime, but the bad people all get their comeuppance, often in bizarre comical events pregnant with irony.
GENRE: Black Comedy/Thriller
NICOTINA is a Mexican black comedy where a computer hacker and peeping tom, two thieves, a henpecked barber and his greedy wife, a policeman, and a fighting couple who operate a drugstore get mixed up in a search for diamonds carried by a wounded Russian gangster. A number of hilarious ironic incidents piles up, many of them leading to murder, mayhem and death. There are very few good people in the story, but the bad people get their just deserts.
NICOTINA is a funny, well-acted, well-scripted morality tale filled with heavy irony. It not only may remind moviegoers of Quentin Tarantino’s work, it also may remind them of the macabre humor in some of Alfred Hitchcock’s work, such as REAR WINDOW and THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY. There is some strong violence, however, plus plenty of strong foul language, but the sexual references are light. Although there is talk of fate and coincidence, it seems clear that the immoral actions of the worst of the characters, and the nicotine habits of most of them, play a crucial role in creating the comical tragedies befalling them. That’s a positive message, but the rough content requires extreme caution.