The Twelve Chairs (3 stars)

The Twelve Chairs

(12A) 93min (Network DVD rental/retail)


When Hipolito (Enriqye Saniesteban) hears that his dying mother-in-law has left a fortune in jewels stashed away in one of her dozen imported chairs, he determines to find the missing fortune. This 1962 film directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and adapted by Alea and Ugo Ulive from Petrov and Ilf’s popular Russian novel of the same name, the action is here transplanted from Tsarist Russia to post-Revolutionary Cuba. The director offers it as a slow-burn consciousness raiser as Hipolito and his former servant, Oscar (Reynaldo Miravalles), realise there is more to life than personal gain. It may lack the weight and texture of the director’s comparable 1976 The Last Supper, but this is solid entertainment with a political conscience. Minimal extras.

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