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The Week Ahead

This thriller really smokes

August 16, 2004|Susan King

Smoking may be hazardous to your health, but in "Nicotina," a new Mexican thriller from the producers of "Amores Perros," it is downright lethal. "Nicotina," which lights up theaters Friday, revolves around a crime that goes horribly awry one night on the mean streets of Mexico City.

Argentina native Hugo Rodriquez, who worked as an assistant director to Alfonso Cuaron, directs the caper flick in a lively, anarchic style that recalls Martin Scorsese's "After Hours" and even Norman Jewison's "The Thomas Crown Affair."

The film's calling card is star Diego Luna of Cuaron's "Y Tu Mama Tambien." "Nicotina" marks Luna's return to his homeland after making several American movies, including "The Terminal" and the upcoming "Criminal."

The 24-year-old heartthrob plays Lolo, a computer hacker who spends most of his time smoking cigarettes in his disheveled apartment while observing his beautiful neighbor via the spy cameras he has hidden in her apartment.

Lolo's solitary life turns into a nightmare when he teams with two clumsy criminals in a scam involving a Russian mobster and an exchange of diamonds for computer access to Swiss bank accounts.

The exchange ends in gunfire and murder.

As Lolo and his friends attempt to retrieve the diamonds, several denizens of the neighborhood find themselves touched by the crime, including an angry pharmacist, a weak-willed barber and his "Sweeney Todd"-like wife.

The film won six Mexican Ariel Awards this year, including best actor, actress and screenplay, and Luna picked up three accolades at the Mexican MTV Movie Awards, including favorite actor and worst smoker.

*

-- Susan King

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