He is the perfect husband, father, and friend. Employed by Banco de Espana, the largest and most respected financial institution in Spain, Emilio Barrero (Jose Coronado) has everything a man could wish for: a beautiful wife, an adoring son, a massive house in the suburbs. For over twenty years Emilio has been assisting friends and relatives investing their hard-earned money in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, providing them with valuable leads. Only…at Banco de Espana no one knows who Emilio Barrero is!
Based on the true story of a well-known Spanish "economist" who did indeed manage to "invest" millions and millions of pesetas, or so his investors thought, during a period of over twenty years La Vida de Nadie a.k.a Nobody's Life (2002) is a film that attempts to partially recreate a story that is so absurd I decided to do some research on my own and make sure that what the Spanish producers claim actually happened. And yes, it is all true! Emilio Barrero did exist living a life full of so many lies at the end he practically lost track of all the fabricated stories his friends and family believed. No doubt this man should have been a politician!!
Creating a big splash before the 2003 Goya Awards Nobody's Life received three nominations including the prestigious Best New Director (Eduard Cortes) and Best New Actress (Marta Etura) yet just now the film is being introduced to North American viewers. Shot in a straightforward manner allowing the audience to see how Emilio's lies slowly but surely erode his life this is a film devoid of major surprises. Yet, Nobody's Life is genuinely entertaining, surprisingly subtle piece of cinema.
I suppose the greatest asset of Nobody's Life is the excellent acting by Jose Coronado. Truly from the moment the audience is introduced to Emilio's web of lies (which happens fifteen minutes into the film hence there is no real suspense here) we see an actor who showcases some impressive transformations performing as a banker, loving husband, and a jobless man with plenty of bills. Indeed Jose Coronado is extremely convincing and time after time one wonders when the big bubble he lives in will finally burst.
Aside from Jose Coronado's excellent acting the supporting cast in Nobody's Life is also magnificent. Marta Etura (who did an equally impressive job in Manuel Gutierrez Aragon's award-winning La Vida Que te Espera a.k.a Your Next Life) as the innocent Rosana falling for Emilio's promise to assist her with a summer scholarship in London (discussed mostly in her bedroom), practically carries the second half of the film providing much needed freshness to the predictable finale of the story. The uncertainty which settles in the relationship between Emilio and Rosana becomes as intriguing as the actual lies our "banker" keeps churning out.
The only aspect of Nobody's Life which substantially downgrades the quality of this recent Spanish drama is the fact that Eduard Cortes has intentionally (or so it seems from his comments in the "Making Of" provided with this DVD) opted for a methodical rhythm that completely negates any sense of surprise one might have hoped for. From the moment the audience is introduced to Emilio it becomes perfectly clear that he is well on his path to destruction. Nevertheless Nobody's Life is truly an unusual film shedding light on the controversial existence of a man who at the end fell victim of his own lies.
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's the film looks rather well especially when viewed on a regular tube. Even though "ghosting" is very difficult to spot in this release (some partial adjustments have been performed) I am convinced a secondary PAL master has been used. There is some very minor "combing" which is not as distracting as we have seen in other releases of European films in R1 land yet it is definitely there and viewers with more sensitive equipments will notice it. With this said there are quite a few positives about this release: contrast may not be impressive but it is good and mostly well handled, colors are vivid and convincing to the eye, edge enhancement with a few exceptions in the opening scenes is manageable, and the print shows no substantial damage that I could spot. Overall, this can be considered one of Wellspring's better releases providing adequate quality, albeit not a solid one, for the film's DVD premiere in North America.
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented with a simple Spanish DD 2.0 track the DVD sounds very, very good. This is not an impressive presentation but nevertheless a solid one providing just enough (this is mostly a dialog-driven feature) so that the viewer could follow the action. I could not detect any audio drop-outs or disturbing sound distortions. In Spanish with optional English subtitles.
Aside from the theatrical trailer (and a gallery of trailers for other Wellspring releases) the only other supplemental feature found on this disc is a standard "Making of" documentary which often a few very interesting comments from the crew and especially the director of the film. I would strongly recommend that you take a look at it, it is not a groundbreaking feature but a simple look at the story and the team behind Nobody's Life.
I quite liked this recent Spanish film. The story is great (absurd and truly unbelievable) and even though it is quite easy to see where it is all heading the great performances by the Spanish crew (Marta Etura will be a name in European cinema) transform this film into a pleasant surprise. RECOMMENDED.