A lumbering bartender wakes up one morning with wounds on his palms that won't heal, and needless to say, people start treating him differently. After losing his job and his apartment in the city he wanders the countryside, ultimately finding his place in a traveling circus. This 2009 Spanish drama is adapted from a graphic novel by Lorenzo Mattotti and Claudio Piersanti, and though it might suggest either religious allegory or anti-religious satire, it unfolds in a comparatively realistic vein. Unfortunately, that turns out to be the problem: the story's fairy-tale literalism, which might be affecting in the pared-down imagery of the comics medium, feels hollow in the complex world of live action. You can't blame director Adan Aliaga for trying, though: working in the peculiar format of widescreen, black-and-white digital cinematography, he creates a unique look that combines the precise detail of a documentary with thick shadows that recall Mattotti's heavy inking. In Spanish with subtitles.
By Ben Sachs