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'Nicotina': Caper Failure

By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 24, 2004; Page WE47

In this Mexican film, Diego ("Y Tu Mama Tambien") Luna plays Lolo, a computer hacker who gets caught up in two problems. He's in love with his neighbor Andrea (Marta Belaustegui) to the point of setting up high-tech peeping devices. And with two-bit hustlers Tomson (Jesus Ochoa) and Nene (Lucas Crespi), he gets involved in a scheme to offer access to Swiss bank accounts to a Russian gangster (Norman Sotolongo) in exchange for access to a bag of diamonds. Naturally, Lolo's attempts to keep watch on Andrea get tangled up with his diamond venture.

The diamonds become a sort of cheap MacGuffin in a second-rate chase movie that also includes a pharmacist Beto (Daniel Gimenez Cacho); his wife, Clara (Carmen Madrid); a barber Goyo (Rafael Inclan); and his wife, Carmen (Rosa Maria Bianchi). Director Hugo Rodriguez, an Argentine filmmaker working in Mexico, desperately wants this caper (set in real time) to be cutting edge and hip. But more often "Nicotina" skitters between dull and forced, this despite the use of split screens, jaunty music and the personable Luna.

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NICOTINA (R, 93 minutes) --Contains some cartoon violence. In Spanish with subtitles. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.

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