4.0 / 5

Michael Philp


Pablo Berger


Maribel Verdú, Antonio de la Torre, Priscilla Delgado



Release Date

26 April 2018




Palace Films

A dark comedy, Abracadabra is mad-cap, brightly coloured, and absolutely brilliant.

Abracadabra starts innocently enough. We follow Carlos (Antonio de la Torre) as he ignores his wife, Carmen (Maribel Verdú), dressed to the nines for her nephew’s wedding. It seems, for a little bit at least, like Abracadabra is aiming for simple, domestic comedy. That is until Carlos gets “hypnotised” by Carmen’s cousin Pepe (José Mota) and we go through a looking-glass of sorts. We emerge to find a very different Carlos, who now gives a shit about his family, but is prone to mood swings. Frightened by his unpredictability, Carmen adventures around Madrid to find a cure for her husband’s affliction.

Credit for the humour primarily goes to the cast, who all display impeccable timing and range. It’s hard to pick an MVP, but Josep Maria Pou comes close, playing the deliciously disturbing Dr Fumetti and stealing every scene he can. Fumetti encapsulates the film perfectly: colourful, but with a wicked streak ten miles long. One of the film’s standout moments involves putting a teenager’s underwear on a dying man, a sequence that makes more sense in context, I swear. That kind of bold, broad humour defines Abracadabra and is the major reason why its violent tendencies sit so well with the rest of the comedy.

To be clear, Abracadabra is not an overly gory film, but it also isn’t afraid to show the red stuff when needed. Characters get stabbed, and throats get cut – often using quick shots, but leaving the implication lingering. Carmen is initially so happy to have her husband cooking for her and looking at her for the first time in years that it takes violence to convince her to fix him.

It’s a treat to watch Carmen go on that journey. Tack on a roaring 80’s dance sequence (set to the Steve Miller Band song, no less) and you’ve got yourself a winner of a film. It’s certainly not a feel-good movie, but it is consistently funny and engaging, with excellent performances across the board. It’s a magical mix that you should definitely reach out and grab.

Image courtesy of Palace Films