Don’t Tempt Me was a curious film. That’s the word I’d use to describe it. Curious. It’s a high concept sort of film with a stellar cast and a very incomplete world with missing pieces and unexplained concepts. I enjoy the idea. It’s abstract in execution and interesting to boot. But it seems incomplete. That’s a complaint I have about many of the films I watched during Amanda and I’s grueling 16 movie marathon. They feel incomplete. So many things happened which felt unexplained or undeveloped. The world had interesting concepts but never took the time to give us enough exposition on things. Again, there are movies in which lack of exposition and explanation work for a film; this is not one of them. The concept was simply too ambitious for the filmmakers.
Another major problem with the film is that the character of Manny, to me was totally uninteresting and undeveloped. His character is probably the most important in the film. Yet, I could not give a shit about him and I think that this is a major problem. The only interest he invoked in me was from the actor Demian Bichir aka Estaban from Weeds. I really really enjoy watching him whenever I see him but I just had no interest in Manny and I think it severely hindered the film.
Let us talk about the good stuff. Basically all of the main characters other than Manny (Lola, Carmen, Marina and Jack) felt very distinct and memorable. Its not an easy thing to accomplish and while their character development is questionable, their distinctness is not and I highly enjoyed the other memorable characters in the film. Penelope Cruz oozed presence and I absolutely fell in love with the twist involving her character at the end. I should have seen it coming; it was so so so obvious looking back but I just was not anticipating any sort of twist with this film and thus was not looking for one. Victoria Abril was delightful as well as Lola. Fanny Ardant is just the coolest woman around so she was great as the CEO of Heaven and Gael was good as well when speaking in Spanish as Davenport. He was doing something weird with his voice when he was speaking in English.
The general conception of Heaven and Hell were very interesting and something that I personally enjoyed to watch. Again it was when it went beyond the visual and extremely basic rules involving these two abstractions that things became very muddled. Overall there were moments and scenes and ideas and characters and performances I loved. But the film never came together as a completely successful work due to lack of development and likability in relation to a pivotal character, undeveloped and overly ambitious concepts, plot unevenness and more. I still was interested throughout the film though and am happy that I saw it.