A Pistol in Each Hand
(Una Pistola en Cada Mano, Spanish Original title)
In my opinion, Cesc Gay is among the top Spanish directors, being one of the (regrettably) few that focuses their films on human relationships, always with honesty, coherency and credibility. Script and actors direction along with the construction of believable, very recognisable situations are his main (huge) talents, mixing drama and comedy with excellent results. In that sense "A Pistol in Each Hand" is no exception. As a matter of fact, is a sublimation of the aforementioned factors.
"A Pistol" might be defined as a comedy with tragic elements on men. But this is not "The Hangover III" now located in Barcelona. Very far from that. This is an episodic collection of five stories all showing the same issue: the male identity crises. Eight men in their late 30s-40s, all struggling and sharing pretty huge emotional turmoils, revealing all their insecurities, fears and fragility in different situations.
With these episodic structure, Gay makes a bold statement in several levels. First and foremost, with the topic he is portraying. The men on the film could be interchangeable, they have no name. Eight minds, attitudes, manners and inner conflicts that together, are a kaleidoscope of male sentimental troubles. Secondly, with his script and, in particular, with the power of dialogue. There are several locations, but they are only serving the different environments on which very "real" people talk about "real" issues. And third, Gay makes a pretty amazing bet on actors. Without them, their commitment and talents, the film would be completely impossible.
The director has assembled an impressive cast with some of the (arguably) best national and Latin American actors. All of them are flawless, playing their roles with a mostly puzzling naturality that makes the movie flow wonderfully. I bet they enjoyed themselves a lot while they were part of this film.
With all this elements, the success or failure of "A Pistol In Each Hand" resides on the strength of the five stories. The first one, with Eduard Fernández and Leonardo Sbaraglia starts the film on a very high note. Both actors do have a splendid "interpretative duel" in which they play a hide & seek game just to reveal how fuc*** they are. The following story benefits of (another) excellent performance from Javier Cámara, with a very hard role to play, a character exposing his feelings so much he's just on the verge of being pathetic, being convincingly responded by a puzzled Clara Segura. Next comes the central piece of the film, which might be its more powerful. Being the most "dramatic" story of the lot, in the hands of other actors/directors it could have been a very embarrassing moment, but thanks to the gigantic performances of Luis Tosar and Ricardo Darín, it justifies alone viewing the film.
Unfortunately, the last two stories aren't quite remarkable. The fourth story, let's say the most related with sex, is by far the weakest, despite Candela Peña and Eduardo Noriega. The final "chapter" uses double couples and is more rewarding thanks to the work of Leonor Watling and Cayetana Guillén-Cuervo, but its quite simplistic in comparison with the rest of the stories, leaving Jordi Mollà and Alberto San Juan little room to develop their characters, that are built on that "man only talk about football" silly cliche.
Despite the last two stories, "A Pistol In Each Hand" is a very recommendable film, with excellent acting and story development. Without achieving the greatness of "In the City" ("En la Ciudad") or "Fiction" (Ficció) it adds another noteworthy and coherent work on the career of director Cesc Gay.