AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2010
By Don Simpson | October 27, 2010
Director: Jack Zagha Kababie
Writer(s): Jack Zagha Kababie, Enrique Chmelnik
Starring: Adriana Louvier, Carlos Alberto Orozco, Carlos Aragon, Emilio Guerrero
Angel (Carlos Alberto Orozco) is a mousy yet hardworking accountant and family man whose comfortable middle-class existence is turned upside down when he is unexpectedly laid off. Unable to communicate his lack of employment to his wife Claudia (Ariana Louvier), who is constantly distracted by her favorite telenovela, Angel scurries around the city fruitlessly searching for a new job, experiencing one ridiculous job interview after another. Fate eventually delivers Angel to the hideout of a merry band of buffoonish thieves with whom he discovers camaraderie and confidence…but still no income. Quickly revealed as the smartest of the lot, Angel conceives of the perfect crime: steal a lion from the city’s zoo and collect a hefty ransom.
Written and directed by University of Texas at Austin alumni Jack Zagha Kababie, Adiós Mundo Cruel plays as satirical slapstick comedy about the foibles of capitalism. It is a dog eat dog world that Angel lives in. His boss offers no explanation for why Angel is being laid off, other than the ambiguous claim that the Chinese are to blame. Angel’s subsequent interviews delve into a realm of sheer absurdity, with psychological exams (what is your favorite animal?) and oblique logic problems (how many tomatoes would fill this room?). The capitalist world throws Angel into a life of crime, but Angel is still able to retain his moral fiber. Angel does not want any handouts; and, as it turns out, he does not want any easy money either.
Orozco effortlessly carries the film on his shoulders or, more appropriately, his mug. Like a silent film star (not all that dissimilar from Charlie Chaplin’s iconic tramp), Orozco’s comedic talents stem from his face — skillfully able to switch his cartoonish expressions, which run the gambit from ecstasy to depression, on a dime.
Taking into consideration its hefty competition (namely Hello Lonesome and Dog Sweat), I am very surprised that Adiós Mundo Cruel nabbed the Best Narrative Feature award at the 2010 Austin Film Festival. Adiós Mundo Cruel does succeed with some brilliantly funny sight gags, but it relies a bit too heavily on toilet jokes for my liking.