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A Gun In Each Hand - Film Review

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by Richard Leathem (subscribe)
Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published June 16th 2013
Spain's best actors in new comedy
Director: Cesc Gay (Nico and Dani, V.O.S.)
Cast: Javier Camara, Luis Tosar, Eduard Fernandez, Candela Pena

Don't be fooled by the crime-themed title, this is no Tarantino shoot-em-up. The title A Gun In Each Hand refers to the reckless attitude men have toward their encounters and relationships with women.

a gun in each hand cesc gay ricardo darin luis tosar
Luis Tosar and Ricardo Darin play L and G in one of the film's best sections


This is essentially a series of two-hander vignettes. Most start as exchanges that look like lasting for only a minute or so, but something keeps the interaction going.

The first is a chance meeting between two old friends who haven't seen each other for a long time. One, clearly shaken, has just had a session with his therapist, while the other is dealing with his own substantial issues in other ways. They share a conversation full of pathos and humour, and I could've watched them for another two hours. Instead though, after roughly 15 minutes, we move on to an equally engrossing scenario of an estranged couple having an awkward, but highly entertaining, exchange.

a gun in each hand cesc gay eduardo noriega candela pena
Candela Pena (far left) and Eduardo Noriega


And so the format continues, six extended one-on-one interactions featuring middle-aged men dealing, or rather not dealing, with relationship problems. It's undeniably talky, but if you appreciate well written, natural dialogue, there is much to enjoy.

The problem with the format though is, like reading short stories, there's no dramatic accumulation. In fact, quite the opposite. Eventually repetition sets in and the situations become less involving.

a gun in each hand cesc gay eduard fernandez leonardo sbraraglia
Eduard Fernandez and Leonardo Sbaraglia play E and J in the opening scene


In Spain the film plays more like an intelligent Valentine's Day or New Years Eve, in that the characters are all played by famous actors. While non-Spaniards will not appreciate the wall-to-wall star cast, they will at least appreciate the quality of the acting. These thesps aren't just well-known, they are truly among the best that Spanish-speaking cinema has to offer.

Cesc Gay is a director who has always shown a deft hand with characters and dialogue, and he doesn't disappoint with A Gun In Each Hand. It's just a shame the short-story approach has been used here. It would have been more satisfying to cut out the last two pieces, fleshed out the others and created a more linear approach to the narrative. As it is, this is a film with many good moments, but sadly most happen in the first half.

The end credits only identify the male characters with an initial, as if to signify the universality of their issues. The women, on the other hand, all have names.

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Why? An A-list Spanish speaking cast in top form
When: Out now
Where: At selected cinemas
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