Les Mains Vides

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Recha repeats the technique used in Pau and His Brother to trace the texture of life in a Catalan village - jigsaw puzzle narrative reveals the full picture only towards the end. Eric the mechanic (the excellent Gourmet, who manages to get away with some of the film's more far-fetched moments) occasionally dresses as an old woman and keeps a stealthy eye on a plot being worked on by builders; Gérard (Noriega) turns up from Spain and is taken on as Eric's assistant; others flit a little enigmatically around the bar, the old woman's house, and elsewhere. After a while it seems a murder mystery is developing, and then the film diverts again into something vaguely resembling black farce. Most of this is very pleasant, in a minor key, but the story, when it comes together, really doesn't have much resonance, and in the end there's rather less here than meets the eye.

By: GA

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