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  • The story of two men , Luis Roldán and Francisco Paesa who fooled an entire country . As Roldán became the first civilian to command the Spanish Civil Guard and under his direction women were hired for the first time at the Civil Guard . Then a big scandal of corruption arose in 1993 , upon initiation of prosecution for his criminal activities , Luis Roldán escaped from Spain in 1994 . Roldán fled the country in early 1994 when it was discovered that he had used his office to amass a fortune through fraudulent means , resulting in the resignation of Interior Minister Antoni Asunción , responsible for monitoring Roldán , as a consequence . Luis (Carlos Santos) , his wife Nieves Fernández (Marta Etura) and supported by their friend , the seductive pilot Jesús Camoes (José Coronado) ask for help the notorious spy Francisco Paesa (Eduard Fernández) . Later on , Roldán was arrested on February 27 , 1995 , amidst claims that Roldán and the Socialist government led by Interior Minister , Juan Alberto Belloch (Luis Calleja) and his State Secretary , Rafael Vera (Ramón Rados) , had reached an agreement in which Roldán would surrender himself in exchange of him being charged of just two minor crimes . These claims came to be known as the "Laos papers", yet the PSOE government refused to recognize their veracity .

    This is an exciting and thrilling story , being plenty of cheats and impostors , taking its inspiration from true facts and from two of the most intriguing characters of recent decades : the corrupt Civil Guard director Luis Roldán and the roguish spy Francisco Paesa . Eduard Fernández gives a masterful acting as Paesa , the rogue agent of the Spanish secret service and arms dealer . Jose Coronado is very well as the womanizer pilot as well as Paesa's accomplice , as the film being told through the eyes of this swindler . Carlos Santos is awesome as Roldán , the ruler of the Spanish Civil Guard , and Carlos bears remarkable physical resemblance to him . The film develops extensively a peculiar caper designed by Paesa when Roldán was arrested on February 27, 1995 in Bangkok , in fact Roldán claimed the Socialist government had reached an agreement in which Roldán would surrender himself in exchange of him being charged of just two crimes : bribery and embezzlement . The picture contains a thrilling and suspenseful musical score by Julio De Rosa . Colorful as well as evocative cinematography by award-winning Alex Catalan . The motion picture was compellingly directed by Alberto Rodríguez . This prestigious filmmaker has shot various successes as ¨7 Virgins¨ , ¨El Traje¨ , ¨Factor Pilgrim¨ , and his greatest hit : ¨La Isla Minima¨ . Goya Award-winning director Alberto Rodríguez is nominated for his third Golden Shell following 2014's Marshland and 2005's 7 Virgins . This multi-prized film won several awards , as it won in San Sebastián International Film Festival 2016 : Feroz Zinemaldia Award to Alberto Rodríguez , it won Silver Seashell Best Actor : Eduard Fernández and Nominated Golden Seashell Best Film . Rating : 7.5/10 , the latest from the director of "The Man with Thousand Faces" or international title "Smoke & Mirrors" is rated above average , well worth watching .

    The film is well based on actual happenings , these are the followings : Luis Roldán Ibáñez is a former Spanish Socialist Workers' Party politician known for being the director general of the Spanish Civil Guard . He created in 1991 the Maritime Service of the Civil Guard and enhanced the counterterrorism information services that obtained great success in the infiltration within the ETA band such as the detention of the head of the organization in Bidart on March 29, 1992. Then , Roldán escaped with great lots of money robbed from the Guardia Civil . During his time missing, Roldán sent letters admitting and accusing other Interior Ministry high-ranking members from having received bonus payments from the reserved funds theoretically destined to finance the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking . Among those he accused was former minister José Luis Corcuera , but also PM González of 'being aware of everything'. This case, along with the GAL case, greatly contributed to the defeat of the PSOE in the 1996 general election . Upon initiation of prosecution for his criminal activities, Luis Roldán escaped from Spain in 1994 . He surrendered in 1995 at the airport in Bangkok . Between 1996 and 1998 he was tried in a court of Madrid. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison for several crimes , the Supreme Court increased to 31 years. He was from February 1995 in the female prison of Brieva (Ávila). In 2005 he was allowed out of prison to work in an intermediate regime between the second and third degree.

    -The other protagonist , Francisco Paesa , also has a wide and unsettling biography : In 1976 he was arrested by Interpol in Belgium and imprisoned in Switzerland and it is believed that he collaborated with the paramilitary group GAL . After serving the sentence he posed as an arms dealer who sold two antiaircraft missiles to ETA . The terrorist group did not know that the missiles had a location signal and its provider was collaborating with the Spanish secret service. The police could find, for the first time , a major hideout in which a large number of weapons and documents were stored during the Sokoa Operation . Until then , the Spanish government knew virtually nothing about ETA logistics and this operation was an important turning point. Being issued a warrant of arrest of Francisco Paesa on December 1, 1988 for collaboration with armed band and use of false identities . In 1998 he faked a fatal cardiac arrest in Thailand . Obituaries were published and a death certificate was forged .
  • Not sure why this film hasn't gotten much attention so far, it's extremely well made with a super interesting (true) story and good acting. Never aiming to go too deep on the emotional side, it's just a very good narrative told in a sleek, stylish and exciting way with some stunning European location shots and the odd sprinkle of some good, dry Spanish wit. Eduard Fernandez in particular gives a great understated performance as the lead, and the instrumental surf-rock score adds a very unique stylistic touch.

    All in all a very pleasant watch and would even make a great entry point into Spanish cinema for those less keen on heavy dramas or art films.
  • This stylish Spanish feature is quite gorgeous to look at. While it taxes the brain for keeping up with the money laundering antics of the worlds corrupt officials - it make us think about what drives people who have a very high profile lifestyle, yet constantly want more! As a study of the madness of greed, this complex drama explores the nature of the disease and its ability to totally destroy the lives of corrupt businesses (and in this case international dignitaries) Happy family situations and comfortable lives are willingly thrown away and replaced with constant fear and regret. It's difficult to have any compassion for these intelligent people who sacrifice all forms of normality for those extra materialistic millions - reducing themselves to human wrecks at the expense of everyone involved. Wonderful photographic and directorial realisation of it subject is brought to life by a hard working cast. Perhaps it could have been a tad too ambitious to cover this complex, based on fact story, in a movie length feature but at the same time, if it were to be treated as a mini-series it could have been overly heavy going for continued interest. Along the way, it lifts the lid on those political corruption news headlines we see on a daily basis! Those who understand the intricacies of moving large amounts of money in a trailless sequence will find this easier to grasp but, it's certainly an interesting watch as friends and family are used as tools to advance foolish ambitions. This feature is well and truly above average for the trashy World Movies channel and the only real problem are the overly fast moving (and badly placed) subtitles that can't successfully keep up with the fast moving dialog.
  • Based on Manuel Cerdán's book, that the director appreciated, "The Man with Thousand Faces" is inspired in true events. Even if the movie does not have the ambition of telling the whole truth about the biggest financial scandal in Spain, Alberto Rodríguez's film admirably reconstructs the events that could have happened. Even though the rhythm of the movie is unequal and there are some boring bits that do not affect the result, "The Man with Thousand Faces" has the merit of proposing a rich and varied cast and quite sharp dialogues. The voice-off, that is present all along the film, is used as a guideline and leads the spectator, making it easier to understand the events. Behind his will to swindle, hides a profoundly human being and it's maybe too late when he realises that he would have preferred to give priority to his family life rather than his fortune. Beyond its moral and its political complexity, this movie shows a deep human side that echoes the current situation of many countries. Full review on our blog Los Indiscretos :
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When there are so many questions left unanswered by the tightly paced script ? I don't understand why IMDB seems to have throttled the FAQ section in its crib on films listings when that used to be one of the most vibrant sections of user commentary.

    I would have more appropriately posted this inquiry there but that access is grayed out as unavailable. Specifically, is Paco's (Paesa) painting an actual painting with known title & artist ? From what very little I know about art, I would peg it as a Modigliani, but I know there are others who have worked in that broader, flat style of simplified portraiture. Did the historical figure indeed drag around such a painting as his one sole lasting possession ? If so, did it in fact hang in a place of honor on the wall of the Thermonuclear Disarmament ambassador's residence of his (semi) steady lady friend ?

    And that's not even touching the many questions about the facts, whether of the plot or the actual history from which the film was derived, regarding the financial misdealing portrayed. Wonder what that lawyer niece is up to now.

    GREAT FILM for anybody who likes to exercise their brain.
  • It takes a while to understand all the players and what's what. But after that it really gets going. Refreshing movie.. go watch it.
  • There's a really good story here but sadly it's been badly told in this movie . Maybe 2hrs just wasn't enough time ...a TV series might have worked better and been less confusing to the viewer .

    The director here has crammed too much information into the plot which bounces all over the place . There was nothing to grab this viewers attention . A shame really as it was a wasted opportunity.
  • ksf-21 June 2017
    This one was a little tricky to find on IMDb... on netflix, its "Smoke & Mirrors", but it's original title is actually "Man of a Thousand Faces". Paco Paesa (Eduard Fernández) has been "the fixer", but still a pawn, made so many promises that were never granted. His compadres are on to him, and tell him to watch out for Jesús Camoes, the real boss. He helps big-shots move money around, and takes a commission. Many things are not answered, but that's part of the mystery. When he helps the police commissioner Roldán escape (Carlos Santos), Paco gets caught up in the search for the missing man and the missing money. We ARE judged by the company we keep. it's pretty good. moves a bit slow, but this is one story, so we see every step they take to make the get-away. The lesson here seems to be that when you run, you stay on the run. It's OK. nothing too special. Showing on Netflix. Written and directed by Spanish director Alberto Rodriguez, who has already done several projects.
  • Yet another of the countless productions that may seem good on paper but turn into disaster on screen. Also, the magic words "based on a true story" more often than not are a sure recipe for failure: just because something happened, doesn't make it worthier than fiction.

    From the beginning the script jumps all over the timeline, introducing a couple of characters with a complex back story and then moving on to a high ranking member of the Spanish government on the run, after having embezzled a fortune.

    I knew nothing about any of this and I found all the characters uninteresting, rude and annoying. The editing is equally unexciting, with repetitive scenes about money being moved left and right and VIPs jetting around to follow their money.

    The plot is so disjointed as to give you a headache, unless you're very much into recent Spanish history and thrilled by this semi-fictional take on the "real events".
  • ibrahimatewy7 October 2020
    It was the best in the story and surprise at the end.
  • 08/31/2020 The constant layering of truth and questionable truth makes for difficulty in following the storyline as it's spoken in Spanish and presented in closed captions in English. It was pretty clear though that greed would triumph and friendships were used and tossed aside. The truly greedy never share, they only pay out what they must to achieve their end goal$. Good movie but hard to follow with the language barrier. Bon Appetit'
  • The intertwined stories of corrupt Spanish politician Luis Roldan, and the arms dealer Francsico Paesa who first helped then robbed him, are truly amazing, and their complicated twists are smartly depicted in this fictionalised account of their lives. I don't know enough about the truth to know where liberties have been taken; but the story is accurate enough so that the real life news broadcasts have been spliced in make perfect sense. But the story works well as fiction in its own right, as we see first Roldan, and then Paesa and his co-conspirators, pass from smug assurance to increasing paranoia and fear as their misdeeds threaten to catch up with them. If you're not Spanish, it's both fascinating and entertaining. If you are, it might rouse you more to anger.
  • "Smoke & Mirrors" (as it's titled by Netflix) is a brilliant film based on true events. From the beginning, it's up front about being a work of fiction based on truth. The story is based on a major Spanish scandal in the 1990s, which won't be known to very many Americans, like, for instance, me. I do get the very strong feeling that the kernel of the story hews closely to non-alternative facts, especially since the movie is interspersed with actual news footage. It's not too hard to guess the many areas where artistic liberty was taken in the name of slick story-telling.

    All of the characters are venal, but they still remain human enough for sympathy. We aren't dealing with serial killers or blood-thirsty mafioso or anything like that; however, they're not "good" guys either. The plot is quite convoluted and can be hard to follow. The subtitles don't help matters too much, because while they're high contrast yellow, they move by pretty quickly. Eventually you adapt to the pace, but you have to keep watching the screen closely to keep up (unless, I suppose, your Spanish is very fluent). As you adjust to the viewing experience, the plot completely draws you in. While you're fully cognizant that this is a pretty long movie, there's simply never a desire to rush it along.

    This is just simply a great movie with which I can find no significant flaws.The scenes keep moving around Europe, but the film is essentially cerebral and is lacking in graphic sex or violence. The attention of all four of us adults watching it never flagged, although, without a doubt, being native American speakers, all of us missed some plot nuances. "Smoke & Mirrors" is an absolutely compelling movie, and, on top of that, an interesting way to pick up a little bit of recent history. I can't recommend this film too highly.
  • That means - it demands some patience from you. A patient viewer is up for treat though. Characters are interesting and nuanced, and, more importantly, believable. None are just good or bad, but complex personalities. Just like in real life. Even small parts are exquisitely meaty and therefore make an impression. The story (being based on a true one) is interesting and also grounded in reality. No big shootouts or car chases. The acting and directing is on point. Very good, believable ending. Well done! 10/10
  • Great cast and a very enjoyable film, although hard to follow the convoluted plot in places. Good direction and some very funny lines in the subtitled script. Well worth watching.
  • This is a fascinating portrayal of Paesa, possibly one, if not the most, intriguing people on this planet. The story is told through his bodyguard and the acting and storyline are perfect. I love hitting the ten button.