Friday, June 13, 2014

The Talisman

Talisman; drama/ short, Mexico, 2012; D: J. Luis Rivera, S: Jorge Moreno, Sara Lara, Cata Garza, Jorge Martinez, David Loji

Jorge is a peddler at a market, but his business has been doing so bad lately that he cannot even afford to pay for his only employee. Since his cannot support his wife Mary nor his son Jorgille, who is unemployed, anymore, Jorge gets so desperate he enters a good luck charms shop and asks a witch for something to break his streak of bad luck. She sells him a talisman that will guarantee to solve his financial troubles, but demands blood from him. Indeed, the same evening, luck seemingly changes for Jorge: his son find a job at a plant. However, the next day, the son is killed in an accident - yet the life insurance policy enables Jorge and Mary to repay all their debts.

A modern retelling of W. W. Jacob's short story "The Monkey's Paw" - as well as the thematically similar "Faust" legend - "Talisman" is a sly and unassuming little film that dwells on our constant superstition and fears that there might be "something invisible" out there that prevents us from succeeding in life, yet that even a shortcut to success has its heavy toll. Director J. Luis Rivera handles the story in an elegant way, establishing in the opening shots not only Jorge's life as a peddler, but also his financial situation, social observations as well as the mood of the economic crisis of that era. The main tangle where Jorge buys a talisman, hoping it will somehow break his circle of misfortunes, is established already from the first scenes as an eerie "Catch 22" with a 'boomerang effect' (the suspicious shop; the dark cat as a symbol for bad luck; the woman demanding blood from Jorge in exchange for the good luck talisman), which will in the dark plot twist at the end aggravate his fate from a part area in life as much as it alleviates it from the financial part. Just like other films about the topic, "Talisman" contemplates about such philosophical terms as an unbreakable equal amount of happiness, almost a yin and yang balance, which can be summed up in a quote from "Puella Magica Madoka" ("Miracles aren't free. When you wish for hope, it creates an equivalent of despair. Happiness evens out and the world stays in balance."), as well as the fatality of destiny. Rivera showed a talent for a natural story flow that is simple and accessible, yet glues the viewers to the screen and grows on them, while the nice touches can be felt (the leitmotiv of the feather). The actors all round up the impression, led by very good Jorge Moreno and Sara Lara.


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