To Die (or Not) | Chicago Reader

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This playful omnibus film by Spanish director Ventura Pons (Beloved/Friend) presents itself as a meditation on fate and mortality, yet the only real conviction evident is in its glee in permuting the crazy-quilt narrative. The film's first half, “To Die,” strings together a series of short comic episodes related only by the demise of a central character in each; the second half, “Or Not,” retells the same stories, altering them so that the characters survive and revealing surprising connections among the episodes in the process. Pons is above all an entertainer, and he takes care never to let our attention wander, peppering us with comic flourishes and farcical plot twists. But total showmanship is reductive: one can't imagine Pons sacrificing a laugh to make a character more complex or a theme sharper. The effect is of a very elaborate sitcom. 92 min.

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