Fausto 5.0 Review
Dr. Fausto has become a specialist in the area of terminal illnesses - in his clinic, he observes his patients slowly die and seldom saves any of them. The aura of death surrounding his practise has started to affect him to the extent that he has lost all interest in life. He toys with the idea of killing himself but is distracted at the last minute. Giving up on the idea, he decides to attend a medical conference to make a keynote speech and give a masterclass. As he gets off the train, he bumps into Santos Vella, a talkative ex-patient who believes Fausto saved him thanks to an operation he performed on him - the removal of his stomach. Fausto quickly realises there is something quite unhinged about Santos and does his best to escape him. But the guy just seems to turn up everywhere in this town...
Though Faust's legend has many different (and differing) versions, the directors seem to have stuck mostly to Goethe's version but have extensively updated it with twists, perversions and topical issues. Set in a not so distant future, the world seems to have taken a turn for the worse and is given a highly dystopic sheen. The art direction borrows a great deal from the French comic strip artist/director Enki Bilal and his dark and dusty vision of the near future which gives the film a strong visual unity along with some very Lynchean anachronistic contraptions and a tendency to make unexpected journeys into Fausto's subconscious. The film doesn't seek to entertain in the common sense of the word and is unusually bleak - it mostly explores human depravity from all angles and the pleasure one can derive from it but also the price one may have to pay living in such a care-free manner.
The actors are quite outstanding - be it Miguel Ángel Solá as the compassless Fausto, the earnest Najwa Nimri as Fausto's secretary or the sardonic Eduard Fernández - and keep their characters believable even in the most insane settings. The plotting does require you to know Faust's story quite well in order to comprehend some of the sub-plots - this is a bit of a shame since it will probably confuse the casual viewer but they will probably be lost regardless. Fausto 5.0 is not easy viewing and does tend to lose itself in parts but it is a brave attempt to try something new and to that extent it's a unmitigated success.
Though you may be surprised at the lack of colours in many scenes, this was absolutely intentional and made to give the world a bleak, tired look which it does quite successfully. Again I noticed a fair amount of white speckle on the print but this is not always noticeable but a little annoying. The original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is respected and the whole is given an anamorphic transfer.
The Spanish 5.1 mix is very good indeed. Sounds come in all directions with the surrounds being used very effectively. The English dub is only 2.0 and the dub is really weird - Santos sounds like an American pimp and Fausto seems to have taken some serious downers. When we've got such a good original mix, what's the point of this dub?
Though it could have done with some extras, the film is presented decently with an outstanding soundtrack. Weird and complicated it may be, but Fausto 5.0 effortlessly finds its own voice and vision and sticks to it.