Veteran Catalan director Ventura Pons is known for films with unusual characters (oddities almost), dark humour and kinky themes of a vicarious nature. He may have mellowed over the years, but his films still retain a refreshing frankness that’s rare these days. Of course, Cataluña is renowned for its quirky artists (and that is an understatement), and it is only natural to see quirkiness manifested in its rich cinema too.
His recent film, “Mil Cretinos” [Orig Title: Mil Cretins, Eng Title: A Thousand Fools] is made of three parts, each with several chapters loosely connected either through one of the characters or an overall theme, a style of film making Sr. Pons has used more than once.
The first and third parts are set around an old people’s home, and inevitably casts a pall over its characters – whether it is a family member about to die, or the end of a relationship. The second part is almost Decamerotic, even if these are staged as theatrical pieces, all chapters taken from folk and fairy tales but with either the roles reversed or with twisted endings. If you can sit through the first two chapters of the film, you’ll begin to enjoy the rest. Having said that, I found one chapter particularly tedious where we follow a mature woman stripping her apartment of all belongings one by one with barely a dialogue or commentary – it may have worked well for a novella but perhaps not so on film. The soundtrack and cinematography is appealing, even if it’s not exactly cutting-edge. While the film may not be in the same league as his earlier gems like “Carisias” or “El Porqué de las Cosas”, it is still very well written, directed and performed by established actors.