Friday, July 1, 2022

Official Competition

From Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat comes this dark satire featuring a group of people who should never have gotten together to make a film when a businessman (José Luis Gómez) turned producer looks to enhance his reputation despite knowing nothing about film (or the Nobel Prize winning novel he's bought). Then there's the eccentric director (Penélope Cruz) who casts the book's estranged brothers with a method theater actor (Oscar Martínez) and a worldwide movie star (Antonio Banderas) hoping to harness their mutual animosity to fuel the film.

Given the numerous variables at play, it's something of a miracle every time a good film gets made. It's that fact that the script exploits to humorous, and sometimes shocking, effect as the tensions between stars, along with the gamesmanship of their director, lead the trio down a dangerous, but always entertaining, path.

The film really is a three-person piece set nearly entirely during the rehearsal for the film. All three are terrific showcasing their characters various personalities and eccentricities in different ways, making you wonder more than once how a film ever gets made. There's just enough seriousness shuffled in with the crazy antics to keep us on our feet, especially when the film decides to pull the rug out from under the audience in a key moment. Smaller roles include our businessman who is ultimately responsible for what occurs, his daughter (Irene Escolar) who is given a role in the film on his suggestion but whose sound test (which takes an unexpected erotic turn) he's unprepared for, and our characters' various assistants who are on-hand when needed but never truly acknowledged or appreciated.

Official Competition may not be as successful as State and Main in both celebrating and satirizing the making of a film, but few films (if any) are. With Martínez in the role of our dour straight man, who isn't without his own issues, Cruz and Banderas are free to bounce their craziness off of him to humorous effect, but it's when the film turns unexpectedly serious, if only for a few moments, that you can feel some legitimate movie magic happening on-screen.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Competencia oficial
  • IMDb: link

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