Written by: John White on May 27th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Spain, 2001
Directors: Álex Ollé, Isidro Ortiz, Carlos Padrisa
Cast: Miguel Ángel Solá, Eduard Fernández, Najwa Nimri
DVD released: 22nd May 2006
Approximate running time: 90 mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo/DTS/5.1
DVD Release: Nucleus
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL
Retail Price: £14.99
Fausto is an earnest sombre doctor working with terminally ill patients. He travels to Barcelona for a conference on caring for the terminally ill. Once he arrives there he is met at the station by Santos, a former patient whose stomach he removed, who ends up showing him to his hotel. Once he is there a woman turns up to have sex with him and Santos turns up in his room for breakfast. Hounded by Santos, the doctor asks him to stay away but after Santos seems to grant a wish of remission for one of his patients he gets drunk with him and lets him know his darkest wishes. Will his wishes lead him to his downfall or to his heart’s desire?
One of the joys of being British is our crazy sensationalist press. No movie or play that dares to be original or to provoke the largely unconscious public into thinking can remain undamned. The theatre group La Fura del Baus found this when they attempted to bring a stage play to the UK called XXX which explicitly dealt with sex and pornography. Just so you know what I mean here is a link to their official site. Fausto 5.0 is the group’s attempt to bring the story of Faust to the silver screen. It is provocative and downright refreshing and I hope it upsets a lot of people!
Rather than seeing the story as a devilish pact where Fausto is at risk of losing his soul, this is a story of redemption and discovery. When Fausto is asked at the end of his torment whether he has enjoyed his trip to Barcelona, he says “honestly….Yes”. For this to come after public humiliation, fear of murder and being eaten alive by a dog is a sign of the visceral drive of this film. Fausto begins the film as a dark figure who the appearance of leads his patient’s relatives to wet themselves, he seems like a man not far from his own end as he edges close to the train platform seemingly considering suicide. He ends the film happy to enjoy his female colleagues cleavage and emboldened to chat her up.
The main centre of the film is the doctor’s descent into his desires. His intent is at first unspoken, the woman who comes to his room, then it becomes noble, his incurable patient’s recovery, then disinhibited, drunken vandalism, and at it’s worst forbidden, the jail bait sex. This latter stage leads to Santos looking for an “evil gland” in him with his rottweiler and a paranoid episode where Fausto fears Santos may kill or seduce his colleague. Eventually, Fausto wishes Santos away and reconciles himself to his own desires.
This is wonderfully done and the decision to treat the characters as people rather than symbols is an excellent one. This verite is backed up by cinematography of the gritty Se7en kind with a grey film over most things in this movie. This helps Fausto’s eventual smile be the brightest thing in it. The acting is very good in the 2 leads with Eduard Fernandez very good and puckish in his role as part devil part irritant and Sola all angst and sexual tension. There are occasional flashed images on the scene which may work well in theatre but look a little sixth form in cinema, but this is a small criticism.
Fausto 5.0 is an original take on an old story, it is not particularly novel in a cinematic sense and feels much like a filmed script rather than much more. It is though, as a story, challenging and intense and a good use of your time.
Nucleus present Fausto 5.0 in anamorphic widescreen. The print is sharp and given the lack of light it was shot with and the deliberate grittiness the transfer is very well done. The sound comes in a myriad of options – Spanish, Catalan, English, 5.1, DTS or 2.0 – possibly the best being the Catalan 5.1 as I believe this is how the film was shot. The English subtitles are good with very occasional errors – “che” instead of “cheque”.
The making of is good stuff with the role of the three directors explained more and interesting contributions from the actors on their characters. There is a trailer, a gallery and trailers for Gwendoline, Between the Legs and The Ugliest Woman in the World.
Overall this is a good presentation of a fine refreshing story. Fans of Alex de La Iglesia will very much enjoy this and most discerning horror buffs will need to give it a rent.
For more information about Fausto 5.0 and other titles released by Nucleus Films visit their website.