By Daniel Barnes
*Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco and the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood in Berkeley.
You won’t find a stronger proponent for unconventional running times than this critic. In the world where I rule you like a god, the multiplexes play 50-minute movies right along with 500-minute movies, and everyone eats a flavorless mush I call “root-marm.” Mexican director Rodrigo Plá’s crusty anti-HMO screed A Monster with a Thousand Heads clocks in at 74 minutes, conspicuously short by today’s standards.
However, it’s still longer than some of William Wellman and Charlie Chaplin’s best films, so fuck you, today’s standards. Unfortunately, Plá’s iron-fisted approach to the thriller genre wrings out any possibility of tension or mystery. That leaves only an over-baked and undernourished gimmick movie, and a fairly laughable one at that.
While her husband wastes away at home, unable to obtain the uncovered medication that he desperately needs, his wife Sonia (Jana Rulay, limited to one expression) takes matters into her own hands. After a doctor brushes her off, she follows him home and abducts him at gunpoint. Of course, even with hostages in tow, Sonia is still forced to navigate an obstinate bureaucracy.
Plá’s one trick is to follow a sequence to its conclusion, then reset from an incidental participant’s point-of-view, usually accompanied with narration ostensibly culled from a future deposition or trial. It probably sounds a lot cooler than it plays, but for the most part, this dud feels like a Dog Day Afterthought.