Thursday, October 4, 2012

Brother Hoods: "Magic Kisa" (2008)

This complex Tarantino-like noir short film is a treat to watch and recommend.

Vic and Gino (both played by Christophe Laubion) are identical twins. Vic has just been released from prison after six years, and he tracks down family man Gino at Gino's bar. Gino should have gone to jail with Vic, both are con men, so Gino makes him an offer- Vic spends two weeks playing Gino, complete with sexy common-law wife Margot (Marie Vernalde) and nerdy son Castor (Philemon Renaud), and then all is even between them.

What Gino fails to tell Vic is that he owes three million dollars to another set of identical twins known as the Gravediggers (both played by Dominique Bettenfeld), who see their enforcement by hacksaw as a task from God, and who like to peruse coffin catalogs in case they must bury one of their associates. Gino is seriously injured, and Vic begins to realize he may have got the raw end of this deal.

First, a word about the technical aspects. Director Saliva does an absolutely flawless job of creating two sets of identical twins with one actor playing each set. The film's effect is brilliant, without calling attention to itself, and I was stunned to learn only one actor played two brothers. The musical score is fun and odd, another aspect that reminded me of Tarantino.

Laubion is great as the shifty brothers. Marie Vernalde is also good as Gino's girl, and Philemon Renaud as the young son is excellent, especially when telling the story of his hitchhiking trip home from school. I could watch an entire film dedicated to the Gravedigger brothers. Their (his?)scenes are both creepy and humorous, with Bettenfeld doing an astounding job.

My few qualms are minor- I wasn't sure which brother was taking whose role, and I was also confused about the Marina (Nathalie Hauwelle) character. Some of this might be blamed on the fact that the film is in French, with English subtitles, and something may have been lost in translation.

Either way, I wholeheartedly enjoyed this mean little film (barely thirty minutes long). It could easily be expanded to a feature length film, and I would be one of the first seeking it out. (* * * * *) out of five stars.