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:: Una pistola en cada mano (A Gun In Each Hand)

If you managed to get along to the opening night of the Spanish Film Festival you may have been lucky enough to see the Australian premiere of Cesc Gay’s 2012 film, A Gun in Each Hand. Already garnering a number of accolades on the international festival circuit, A Gun in Each Hand offers a veritable showcase of Spanish acting talent as it tackles the shifting concept of masculinity. Both a testament to the fruits of talent Spain has to offer while exploring a theme of universal significance, A Gun in Each Hand stands as an ideal choice for an opening film.

As an ensemble piece, A Gun in Each Hand dips into the lives of several middle-aged men at points of various masculine crises. A man’s attempt to woo the “office slut”, an attempt to spring an adulteress wife, a desperate bid to win back an ex; these are just some of the dilemmas the men are faced with.

Despite being largely focused on the rougher sex thematically, I think the film is equally engaging for both sexes, insightful even. These are male characters incarcerated by their own familiarity, far more comfortable in spilling their souls to mere acquaintances than their closest friends. There is a contemporary resonance to this ironic trapping of masculinity that transcends these characters’ age.

At its micro-level, the film is a treat. The vignettes are consistent and remarkably well handled, each endowed with its own twist. There is a patience to the directing that really allows both the performance and the subtle dramatic shifts of the script space to breath. These sequences really act as a microcosm of the fundamentals of filmmaking—performance and script. And these elements are enhanced by a director with enough humility and skill to trust in both. It’s getting back to basics in a highly effective manner.

Unfortunately the structure of the film is very basic and the sum of its parts, that is the finale, was not as satisfying as the individual components themselves. By the end, the clever dramatic maneuvers are forgone, and you are left with the feeling of a lost opportunity; these could have been tied together in a much more interesting and creative way, but alas.

Like I said, as an opener for a film festival it’s a good choice, a safe choice. It has insight, star-power, comedy, nationalistic pride and contemporary relevance. While not without its shortcomings, A Gun in Each Hand is worth watching for its thematic honesty, its patient handling of drama and comedy, and some fine Spanish performances.