This is kind of a silly movie, but it's also sort of fun and amusing. It's the age old tale of heaven and hell battling for souls, but set in modern Europe - well, a kind of futuristic, hardcore looking Europe anyhow. The movie doesn't rely belabor the bureaucracy of the afterlife, or rather, it doesn't really explain it - you just get the sense that it's complicated. And the plot doesn't take itself too seriously, though it's not complete camp either. Actually, the more I think of it, the odder the movie seems. But first, the merits:
This may seem like a strange thing to like in a movie, but it's something I really appreciate - the multilingualism. There's something fantastically refreshing to me about a movie that doesn't pretend that everyone in France speaks English. And that bounces around between languages without a care. Though come to think of it, which languages the characters speak doesn't necessarily make sense. Most puzzling in this regard is Gael Garcia Bernal, who occasionally breaks into English with what I think is meant to be a regional accent, but I'm not sure which region, and neither is he perhaps, but it sounds somewhat peculiar and is decidedly at odds with his own Spanish accent. Heh heh.
Which brings me to my next point, namely, the cast. It's lots of famous faces, but most notably, the lovely Penelope Cruz, who's smoldering and sexy and fun as usual. It was awesome to see her in a movie where she played a character who's attracted to women (Vicky Cristina Barcelona doesn't count, despite the threesome). And by awesome I mean totally hot. Not least because her character was so blatantly meant to be hot, and they just kinda went all out without a trace of shame. There's a fantastic scene of her looking at a porn that's totally fabulous. It's actually kind of a pity that the movie later ends up explaining away what would appear to be her lesbianism, but so it goes.
Which is what's sort of great about the movie - yes, it's kind of silly, and occasionally a little too earnest (name a heaven vs hell movie that isn't though - ultimately all of them have to pay some kind of lip service to the good vs evil issue) but it's also kind of committed to itself. It's hard to explain. You just have this sense that the filmmakers were like, ok look, this is what we wanna do. Yes, it doesn't entirely work with the plot, and maybe the movie would be better without it, but please? Please? I really wanna. I'm not sure what gave me this sense, but there was something really lively about the movie, and a kind of dogged persistence in its bizarrely convoluted plot. It's definitely not a great film, but I give it 4 stars anyhow, the extra star being for novelty and enjoyability.