Review by Richard Propes The Independent Film critic
Written and Directed by: Mathieu Saliva
Starring: Christophe Laubion, Marie Vernalde, Dominique Bettenfeld, Nathalie Hauwelle
Running Time: 30 Mins.
Vic and Gino (both played by Christophe Laubion) are identical twins, with Vic having just been released from prison after a six-year stint. After his release, Vic looks up Gino, who really should have been alongside his brother in the slammer and knows it. Gino offers Vic a deal - he gets to play Gino for a couple weeks, complete with a hottie wife (Marie Vernalde) and son (Philemon Renaud). Then, everything will be even.
Of course, nothing is ever this simple.
Gino doesn't happen to share that he currently owes yet another set of identical twins (both played Dominique Bettenfeld, La Vie En Rose) $3,000,000 and they're pretty intent on collecting their debt and have unusual, rather effective ways of making their point. Suddenly, Gino's debt has become Vic's very big problem and he doesn't have very long to resolve it.
Written and directed by Mathieu Saliva, Magic Kisa is a rather delightfully demented French language short with touches of film noir and infinite amounts of pitch black humor packed into its perfectly paced 30-minute run time.
The majority of the time when a modestly budgeted short such as Magic Kisa extends itself dramatically, both in terms of technical requirements and the challenge of having two performers play dual roles, the end result is a shoulder shrug and a response of "Nice try." However, Magic Kisa manages to transcend its supposed "limitations" behind a stellar cast led by our dual players, Dominique Bettenfeld and the remarkable Christophe Laubion. Laubion's entire physical being comes remarkably to life, even his facial expressions completely remarkable.
At a mere 30 minutes, Saliva manages to both script and construct a film that both feels complete as a short film yet practically crying out to be a feature length film complete with intriguing and involving characters and dialogue that is snappy, crisp and lively. The camera work of Xavier Arias is remarkable, capturing both the film's darker aura while never losing grasp of the comedy that affords the audience breathing room and the ability to actually invest in these characters. The sound mix, another area where these sorts of shorts often fall short (no pun intended!), is crisp and clear throughout the film's run time.
Magic Kisa has been an official selection at 25 film festivals including the Short Film Corner at Cannes Film Festival. The film has been on the film festival circuit since late 2008, also playing on HBO in Europe while Indieflix members are also able to catch the film.
For more information on Magic Kisa, visit the film's website above.
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