I Can’t Believe It’s Not Heroin
Nicotina (2003): 5 out of 10: Nicotina represents a black comedy tradition that has been alive and well in Mexico for over fifty years. Death is around every corner and it is a punch line to boot. All the men are womanizers and many of the women are no better. Director Hugo Rodríguez and writer Martín Salinas took this beloved tradition and married it to its distant cousin, the Quentin Tarantino crime film.
It is a decent fit. The basic plot is that a Mexican criminal gang is switching computer bank codes with a Russian gangster for diamonds. I do not think I am spoiling anything by pointing out that not everything goes as planned.
The two criminal gangs end up involving the computer geek that downloaded the data. His next-door neighbor, a sexy and promiscuous cellist, played by Marta Belaustegui; Her conductor, a possible future sugar daddy: a plant toting upstairs neighbor: a pharmacist couple, with a beautiful saintly wife played admirably by Carmen Madrid: and a beauty shop couple, with an evil harridan wife played chillingly by Rosa María Bianchi: plus the occasional police officer and a scary dog.
Some of the camera tricks can be fancy without any underling purpose, and I have not seen this much pastel neon on buildings since that Don Johnson episode of True Hollywood Stories. Overall, Nicotina is nice. It is a pleasant, good time. It is not particularly scary, thrilling, funny, sexy, or clever, and that is its only real fault. There is nothing terrible memorable in the ninety odd minutes of the movie. Oh, and do not watch if you are trying to quit smoking. I have never seen a movie so relentless in its promotion of tobacco. It is like watching Eat Drink Man Woman while dieting.