Heaven has sent its best, and the devil has enlisted his worst - Victoria Abril and Penelope Cruz co-star as agents doing battle for ultimate supremacy. The winner is to be decided by whoever can secure the soul of a sh... more »ort-tempered, punch-drunk boxer on earth. These sexy angels pull no punches, using their brains, wiles and of course, sex appeal. Damnation has never been this seductive, and seduction never more heavenly; he?s not going to know what hit him?he?s only human!« less
A New Spanish Master of Filmmaking is On the Scene!
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"DON'T TEMPT ME (or SIN NOTICIAS DE DIOS in the original) is a sparkling, surreal, humorous, and meaty bit of filmmaking of the type that we have come to expect form the Spanish School of Cinema. Augustin Diaz Yanes both wrote and directed this absorbing parable and has cast it with some of the finest talent from around the globe. His use of smart dialogue, choices of cinematic technique, and rapid fire pacing drives this delicious tale along the paths of Bunuel, Almodovar, etc. The plot: the corporate executives (American profiles of course - though played by British actors like Gemma Jones all speaking in English) of Hell have found a strong need to obtain the soul of a living boxer (Demian Bichir) to join them in Hell. The recruiter Jack (in a terrific performance by the extraordinarily gifted Gael Garcia Bernal) agrees to assign worker Carmen (Penelope Cruz, finally in a role that allows her to demonstrate her broad range of acting skills from drama to comedy) to go to earth to finalize this corporate decision. Meanwhile, in Heaven (quite appropriately filmed in black and white in Paris where the one in charge is Marina d'Angelo played with subtle charm by Fanny Ardant and using French as the language) the elected angel to foster the heavenly admission of the boxer is Victoria Abril (more beautiful than ever and pulling off the heavenly role as a chanteuse with aplomb).Cruz and Abril move in with Bichir, become involved in the struggle over his soul as well as attempting to thwart the results of Bichir's chaotic life as a has-been, in debt boxer. The remainder of the tale is a back and forth pitting of heavenly and Hadean forces and their bungling of both sides of the pitch for Bichir's soul. As the film ends, both the dark and light angels become transiently human, and we learn what their next steps in their respective afterlives might be.Appropriately, this 'comedy' has many dramatic sides, as is requisite for a true comedy. But rest assured with a cast of this caliber and the quality of direction of this surrealistic tale you will be thoroughly entertained. It is refreshing to have a movie move in many languages while it parodies the source countries of each language used to tell a story of good vs evil - and all that jazz!"
E. Karasik | Washington, DC United States | 09/04/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I found this film surprisingly enjoyable, thanks to an absolutely outstanding cast, fairly intelligent writing, some interesting use of surrealism with the sets, and a fun soundtrack. While the struggle-for-a-soul plot was of moderate interest, it was really more of a vehicle for the other more unique plot elements, which distinguish this film from so many other heaven/hell parables. "Don't Tempt Me" may not be the most profound film out there, but it is surely one of the more original ones."
Jenseits Gut und Böse
John D. Robertson | 12/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't Tempt Me represents a commentary on the value of the structure of morality. Essentially, the film revolves around the competition between Heaven and Hell for mortal souls in the beginning but about mid-way through the film we begin to see that the key moral conflict of the modern era is not between good and evil, but between morality and amorality. The co-operation between the minions of Heaven and Hell to throw the soul of Manny the boxer to heaven is in order to prevent Heaven from shutting down and thus empowering the managerial cabal in Hell to seize power from the general manager of Hell, a traditionalist concerned with the maintenance of Hell as a place of punishment, demonstrates this conflict. This cabal is not evil in the conventional sense, nor is it good. It does not concern itself with these categories at all, and it is this which is truly radical about their movement. They seek not to be good or evil but efficient. They disregard the categories in totality and in so doing seek to dismantle the very framework of good and evil which underlies the concepts and allows them to make sense at all. This representation of true `evil', if such a term can successfully be applied to them, is implicitly a commentary on the globalization and corporatization which represents such a powerful force in today's world. The film indicts the pursuit of profits as an end in itself free of moral judgement as an existential threat to the very concepts of good and evil, represented as the general managers of Heaven and Hell. The outcome of this, then, would be the elimination of heaven and the breakdown of Hell as a place of penance and atonement and its replacement with a Hell in which the totality is operated for the benefit of the managerial class, which is to say the shareholders of multi-national enterprises. The symbol of this subversion of the mission of the whole into the service of the few is air-conditioning the general offices of Hell. The depiction of the management of the Supermercado can be seen as playing a similar role on Earth to the Cabal in hell - they care for profits and do whatever maximizes them, without considering or acknowledging the moral dimension which their decisions touch on. The central conflict is then solved by the affirmation of the role of morality with Manny's ascension to heaven, but such a resolution is incomplete. As the General Manager of Heaven says early in the film, even those reaching heaven these days aren't reaching it of their own merit, and the same can be said of Manny - Hell throws the contest in Heaven's favor, a fixed fight, which seems to indicate that the corporatization of morality as a process is not so easily halted. The incomplete and essentially unsatisfactory temporary solution mirrors the uneasy relationships between multi-nationals and globalization on the one hand and the concept of social justice and corporate morality on the other in our present world and demonstrates the ambiguity of the solution. I think the film succeeds as a critique as well as an entertaining film and operates on both levels with finesse and skill. The layers work together to inform the viewing of the film and make it more enjoyable."
The hidden message of heaven and hell
Wenddy Ayerdis | 12/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The battle between good and evil continues in a race to win one man's soul, the one that can destroy the delicate balance between these forces.... You would assume that this movie was actually concerned with the battle between God and Satan, but that is only the façade presented to the audience. Penelope Cruz plays the part of a demonic agent called Carmen who loves alcohol, sex, and freedom, but also has a secret of her own that affects the sexual tension and events in the movie. Her counterpart is Lola, a good angel sent by heaven to save the soul of a boxer, Manny. Uniquely, Lola's role in heaven is to be a seductive lounge singer who looks like those from the early to mid -1900s. This role as a lounge singer is depicting an earlier time period, which can be seen in the parts of the movie when she is singing, which are in black and white. These differences between what constitute hell and heaven (and their inhabitants) leads to the true hidden message in this movie, which is the idea of globalization. God and Satan are used here as a representation between the feuding parties that are for and against globalization. Globalization is meant to be seen as the negative idea in this movie, therefore it is depicted as all that is concerned with hell. The idea revolving around globalization is that it is a way for the IMF to "help" other nations become modernized by lending them money and restructuring their economy, while not forgetting to make their own wallets bigger. The IMF is present in the movie, when the IMF president or high executive is judged in hell, and as his punishment he is made part of circle 33 where his identity is changed to that of an illegal immigrant. His identity was changed to an illegal immigrant because these are the real victims of the IMF's globalization, since it is their nations that are being destroyed economically if they are unable to abide to all the conditions established in the loan contract. Heaven represents the anti-globalization groups because it is depicted as an old-fashioned, conservative place where management does not seek profits, which is the opposite objective of hell. The presence of the anti-globalization groups is only known at the end of the movie, where Lola leaves singing to join politics, specifically the anti-globalization party. In the end, both heaven and hell must work together in order to help heaven gain the boxer's soul, and maintain a balance between both domains; as well as prevent the individuals seeking globalization from gaining control. The satirical nature of this movie is not obvious to anyone who does not know anything about globalization and the groups supporting it, therefore, Don't Tempt Me is a story within a story where God and Satan are fighting over souls, which parallels the globalization and anti-globalization group feud over potential profits. Putting aside these ideas, this movie is quite exciting to watch (especially in Spanish, if you speak the language), since the characters are comical and their interactions lead to both bizarre, comical, and somewhat sad events taking place for the last half of the movie. "
Charming, if a bit pretentious
D.S. Chen | Rancho Cordova, California | 03/12/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The eternal struggle between Heaven and Hell seems to have come down to one soul: that of a worn-down boxer in Madrid (or at least, that's what Hell's number crunchers claim.) Each side has sent an agent to try to steer Manny Chavez (Demian Bichir) toward their side: Lola Nevado (Victoria Abril) for Heaven and Carmen Ramos (Penélope Cruz) for Hell.
Each agent is quite good in manipulating Manny and other circumstances surrounding him, but neither is quite powerful enough to overcome some of the other forces at work that threaten Manny, including a pair of crooked Madrid cops trying to shake him down for their influential boss.
The lines between good and evil begin to blur as the movie progresses. Lola, who is posing as Manny's wife, is certainly willing to use sex to try to steer Manny in the right direction. Carmen herself possesses considerable charms, but doesn't follow Lola's lead because... well, that would be telling. Near the end, it's hard to tell who works for whom when both are enmeshed in a plot to appease the cops.
Writer/director Augustin Diaz Yanes' script is quite amusing, and he uses language and film effects creatively in this movie. Most of the action takes place on Earth, in Spanish. Heaven is portrayed in black and white as a nightclub where the management and patrons speak French. Hell, meanwhile, is a darkly-tinted prison where each "circle" represents some unique form of punishment depending on the sin... and everyone speaks English.
Abril's performance and character seem quite vanilla at first, but she seems to gain momentum during the latter half of the movie. The sexually ambiguous Carmen is far from a typical Cruz character, but her portrayal is quite effective (watch for that little dance she does to "Kung-Fu Fighting" late on.) Gael Garcia Bernal definitely steals the show as Hell's eccentric CEO Jack Davenport, who is trying to fend off a conspiracy within Hell to replace him.
The movie, originally called "Sin noticias de Dios" (No News from God) is not particularly deep or memorable, but it is fairly entertaining if not taken too seriously. "