Directed by: Agustín Díaz Yanes | 112 minutes | comedy | Actors: Victoria Abril, Penélope Cruz, Demián Bichir, Fanny Ardant, Juan Echanove, Gael García Bernal, Emilio Gutiérrez Caba, Cristina Marcos, Gemma Jones, Bruno Bichir, Elena Anaya, Peter McDonald
Imagine Heaven and Hell are commercial companies that earn their sales by winning souls. Both “companies” feature management that the big boss – God – hasn’t seen for a long time. It is even rumored that He no longer has faith in the future of Heaven. The founders of the great world religions would turn in their graves upon hearing this scenario.
Director and screenwriter Yanes portrays his ideas about a commercial Heaven and Hell in a humorous way. Paris in the fifties serves as the setting for Heaven. The scenes that take place here are in the classic black and white picture and French is spoken. French actress Fanny Ardant plays Marina D’Angelo – the director of Heaven. The boundary between Heaven and Hell is called “Checkpoint Charlie,” showing long lines of people all waiting for an upper or lower visa; and yes, both companies also deal with illegal immigrants. Hell is portrayed as a dirty prison where English is spoken and has a Spanish director (referred to as “bloody foreigner”). The battle between Heaven and Hell is fought on Earth, in Madrid, where Spanish is spoken. When the mother of Manny, a boxer from Madrid, sends Heaven a request to save her son’s soul, Heaven and Hell go into conflict. From Heaven Lola (a true diva there) is sent down. She takes the role of Manny’s wife who must prevent Manny from returning to boxing. Hell sends Carmen, a waitress with masculine traits who must keep Lola from her job and make sure Manny’s soul moves towards Hel.
Yanes brilliantly visualizes Heaven and Hell. Heaven: prestigious and romantic and Hell: dirty and English. Great Britain and the United States are often seen as rescuing angels in times of war or crisis and the association with Hell is therefore a humorous start to the film. Penélope Cruz puts down a good hard aunt from hell. Her masculine features are very convincing and it is nice to see that she does not play the beautiful, sweet and innocent woman in every film. Gael García Bernal (known from the films ‘Y tu mamá también’ and ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’), who plays the ‘bloody foreigner’, is also a pleasure to watch and brings a lot of humor to the film .
“No News from God” is a successful cynical comedy about Hell, Heaven, Earth, God and faith. If, from your religious convictions, you have a lot of respect for these things, it might be wise to skip this film. If you can see through this, the film is definitely worth it because of the good game play and the fun and original scenario.