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Strand Releasing presents
Smokers Only (Vagón fumador) (2001)

"What now, honey? Time for love?"
- Andrés (Leonardo Brezicki)

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: May 06, 2003

Stars: Leonardo Brezicki, Cecilia Bengolea
Director: Verónica Chen

MPAA Rating: R for strong sexuality, nudity and some language
Run Time: 01h:23m:56s
Release Date: April 22, 2003
UPC: 712267220229
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C-CB- D

DVD Review

Hey, single gals! Here's a hot dating tip for you, courtesy of Smokers Only. Had your fill of bars, online personals, blind dates? Why not look for your dream man in an ATM vestibule, where you'll find him turning tricks as a gay prostitute?

Yes, that's the premise of this moody but largely empty recent Argentinean film, which has the look and same amount of content of ads you'll find in Maxim and other lads' magazines. Cecilia Bengolea plays Reni, who is young, lovely and, for unspecified reasons, depressed—the film opens with her in the bathtub, contemplating opening up her wrists. Reni also likes to watch: she camps out opposite a 24-hour automated teller, where Andrés (Leonardo Brezicki) plies his trade—his johns can conveniently get cash right on site, and then hand it right over to Andrés in exchange for sexual favors.

Reni and Andrés strike up an unlikely friendship, even a romance—neither is quite sure what this relationship is all about, and truthfully, neither is the audience. Most of the film is shot in a documentary style, showing the seedier aspects of South American nightlife—hookers plying their wares, Andrés seen at work on the ATM security camera, shaky handheld camera work designed to make it all seem gritty and authentic. But in truth it feels like kind of a put-on—while the characters seem to be in some genuine pain, we're given almost no window into their souls, and come away only with the sketchiest sense of who they are.

There's obviously something in here about love for sale (as Andrés tells Reni, defending his profession: "If you don't have a price, you have nothing to offer"), but it's not well said, and what's supposed to be Reni's descent into the lower depths becomes more than a little tiresome. Flashes of nudity and intimations of explicit sex are tossed in at fairly regular intervals, in what occasionally seems like a producer's game attempt to maintain the audience's interest, but they don't really work; unless you're especially hot to see what's essentially a feature-length Calvin Klein perfume ad, you can safely avoid this one.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The grainy style of the filmmaking is obviously deliberate, but the print is still loaded with scratches, dirt and many imperfections detracting from its visual presentation on this disc. Colors are faded, and things just generally look a little sloppier than they should.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishno

Audio Transfer Review: There's a good amount of hissing and buzzing on the soundtrack; atmospherically this sometimes works, and even if you're not trying to follow the Spanish dialogue, you'll get a keen sense of time and place. Still, it's clear that the film was made on a tight budget, and the limitations are apparent here.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Harlem Suare, Praise, His Secret Life, The Cockettes
Packaging: Unknown
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The quartet of additional trailers are a nice addition, but the biggest problem with the extras is that the English subtitles are riddled with misspellings and typographical errors: "It's beatiful!" Other favorites include "equippment," "prisioners," "reharse" and the ever-popular "condms." Then there are diction problems: "I want a mobile to be communicated all the time." (???) Memo to distributor: use that spell-check program next time.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Argentinean eye candy doesn't go very far in maintaining the viewer's interest in Smokers Only. Reach for the Nicorette instead.


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