No guns involved in Spanish masterpiece

MARK NAGLAZASSound Telegraph


A Gun in Each Hand


There are no guns in this comedy-drama from Catalan writerdirector Cesc Gay, despite the mostly male ensemble and a title that suggests it has been concocted by Spain’s answer to Quentin Tarantino.

The gun of the title (or the more euphonious “pistola” in the Spanish original) refers not to a literal weapon, but to self-image of a group of middle-class males in the Catalan capital of Barcelona who discover in middle age they are firing blanks (apologies but I’m just continuing the metaphor).

This is a small movie — A Gun in Each Hand is a series of loosely linked vignettes in the mode of Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth — but Gay elicits such rich and entertaining performances from the cream of the country’s acting talent that it hits its target on more than a few occasions.

The wry, comical tone of the movie is set by the first dialogue between a man who’s just left his psychiatrist (Leonardo Sbaraglia) and an old acquaintance he bumps into outside the shrink’s office (Eduard Fernandez).

Gay’s movie hits its straps with the second vignette, in which a separated man, played by the wonderful Javier Camara (he is most fondly remembered as the male nurse in Pedro Almodovar’s masterpiece Talk to Her), returns to his family home and attempts to reconcile with his wife, who he left after a fling.

The woman is such a vivacious stunner (she’s played by beautiful Clara Segura) and the man so innocuous that we can see as clearly as him that he has made a big, big mistake.

Even worse, she seems to be enjoying the spectacle of his abasement, so much so she delays breaking life-changing news until the end.

There’s an even greater shock ahead for Ricardo Darin’s jealous husband, who bumps into a friend in a park (Luis Tosar) while following his wife who he knows is having an affair.

There is a gimmicky little twist at the climax of this vignette, as there is with most of the dialogues, but what’s important is not Gay’s success in fooling the audience, but the quality of the exchange.

In this one the great Argentine actor Darin (The Secret In Their Eyes) takes us so deep into the tortured male psyche, it’s more painful than funny.

Things lighten up in the next episode, with dreamboat Eduardo Noriega playing a married worker who hits on a fellow worker.

A Gun in Each Hand is breezy but insightful entertainment, a take-down of the male species that does not wound too brutally.

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails