[Film Review] Placido (1961)

Placido poster

Title: Placido
Year: 1961
Country: Spain
Language: Spanish
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Luis García Berlanga
Luis García Berlanga
Rafael Azcona
José Luis Colina
José Luis Font
Music: Miguel Asins Arbó
Cinematography: Francisco Sempere
José Luis López Vázquez
Manuel Alexandre
Elvira Quintillá
Mari Carmen Yepes
Amparo Soler Leal
Amelia de la Torre
Antonio Ferrandis
Julia Caba Alba
José Orjas
Agustín González
Julia Delgado Caro
Fernando Delgado
Rating: 6.7/10

Placido 1961

Venerable Spanish director Luis García Berlanga’s hyperbolically frenetic social satire PLACIDO is an Oscar nominee for BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM and Palme d’or contestant, and guilefully circumvents the censor of Franco’s government by subsuming his trenchant sideswipes into the pandemonium of a farcical dynamo.

The story takes place exclusively on the day before Christmas, in a small Spanish town, to celebrate the festival, each of the wealthy families will invite one poor citizen to each one’s Christmas Eve dinner, to be a Good Samaritan for one day, (but even that, would be too big a challenge for many of them, Berlanga makes sure that the acerbic irony doesn’t lose itself in the swamp of shameless plugging) . And Placido (comedian Cassen in his film debut) is an unassuming man who must pay his bill before midnight, otherwise he will lose his motor-vehicle (and his family stays in the public lavatory because they cannot afford the rent). He is hired by Gabino Quintanilla (Vázquez, a masterful nexus in the convoluted morass), the photographer of the so-called “set a poor man at your table” charity event, to participate the Christmas parade in the afternoon with his vehicle, after he picks up a band of film stars in the train stations, who will participate in the charity auction afterwards.

Rambunctious from A to Z, this comedy distinguishes itself as an interminably garrulous talkie, which sets a built-in hindrance to those subtitle-dependent first-time viewers, it could be an excruciatingly daunting experience since the devil is in the details, and it is plain physically impossible to get on board with all comings and goings at that speed. The charity plugging continues with an effervescent flurry of episodes where bourgeois hypocrisy, nagging nuisances, contemptible unkindness inexorably career through the night with Placido persistently tailing behind to make both ends meet.

A plethora of named Spanish actors appears on the roster to enliven the burlesque merry-go-round, which predominantly caters for its home-turf demography who can trace a piquant whiff of self-referentiality out of its rowdy mockery, and also accentuates Berlanga’s rhythmic legerdemain to affix a catenation of skits scene to scene in a non-stop fashion, however, in the eyes of an outsider, its efficacy is potently eclipsed by his tangibly more mordant social critique THE EXECUTIONER (1963).

Oscar 1961  Placido

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