Conflicting Forces

Nicotina, an entertaining moral exploration, opens August 20

By Edward Flores
Published on LatinoLA: August 18, 2004

Conflicting Forces

Nicotina is a keen look into the effect that the conflicting (and sometimes overlapping) forces of individualism and collectivism may have on one?s behavior when the opportunity for fast money is presented. All characters in this movie are from middle-class backgrounds, instead of the dirt poor lower classes sometimes depicted in movies taking place in the third world (i.e. City of God), so the audience initially feels no sense of urgency to see any party rewarded with the handsome treasure involved.

Rather, this movie is fascinating in the manner in which it seems to successfully portray the elevation of greed and materialism in various types of persons and relationships. Though the movie takes place in Mexico, characters from Russia and Argentina give this film a resonating tone regarding the nature of humans.

Nicotina?s twists and turns are foreshadowed early on by the argument betweenTomson (Jesus Ochoa) and Nene (Lucas Crespi), over the science of smoking/cancer/death. Though one character believes in abstaining completely, the other insists that exceptions do exist and that only coincidences determine our fate. A brilliant artistic feature of this film is the way in which the director manages to symbolically transpose cigarette addiction, second hand smoke, and disease, into a failed business deal sending valuable diamonds into the lives of hard-working middle-class persons. The results are various personal struggles with ethics, much like the inner-turmoil felt by quitting smokers.

This movie may begin slowly, to some degree, leading the audience to ponder the importance of each action and behavior. However, by the middle of the movie the various stories begin to intersect with unceasing suspense and touches of ill-fated humor.

The acting is superb, starring Diego Luna as a computer hacker obsessed with his female neighbor. Simultaneously, Enoc Leano reveals himself as a wealthy Russian, successfully speaking mediocre Spanish. Rafael Inclan plays the role of the husband who always takes orders from his wife, played by Rosa Maria Bianchi, while Daniel Gim?nez Cacho and Carmen Madrid form an opposite but equally dysfunctional relationship.

Calling attention to their neurotic quirks, the characters do not at all upstage the plot of the movie, always leaving the audience with a sense of where the movie is.

It is not at all surprising that this film grossed more than any other Mexican film in 2003, earning several awards at the 46th Ariel Awards and the 2004 MTV Movie Awards Mexico.

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