Eye For Film >> Movies >> Greatest Hits (2012) Film Review
Reviewed by: Michael Pattison
Greatest Hits (Los Mejores Temas) begins as an amusing experiment, risks derailment, shows a willingness to lose its audience, and gathers gravitas to end on a poignant note. Somehow, it works.
Gabino (Gabino Rodriguez) showers, dresses and sits at the dining table waiting for his mother to serve him a sandwich, all the while reciting what appear to be the lyrics of a clichéd love song. As it turns out, however, these aren’t the lines of a single ballad, but the titles of many, as they appear on the knock-off compilation CD that gives this film its title. Brought up for the most part in a fatherless home, Gabino is resigned to a life selling such discs, and invests all of his time and effort into memorising their tracklists so that he can reel them off like some rap-cum-confident sales pitch in order to ensure a quick sell.
Into this humble equilibrium enters Gabino’s father, Emilio, after a ten-year absence in which he travelled the world. Emilio wants his son to join him in a business venture with a friend, though Gabino is understandably reluctant (“but I’ve just started on the CDs – that requires continuity”). It’s at this point, oddly, that the scene is repeated, with added details and some variation; essentially, it plays out like an alternative scenes featurette, but leaves it to us to figure out the meaning and/or intention.
And then Emilio enters again, only this time played by José Rodríguez, thus restarting his reintegration into the family he left behind. Luis Rodríguez’s version of Emilio appears to be weaker than his successor/comparator/competitor, who arrives with a raconteur’s tale-for-every-moment swagger. Are these two actors playing (or auditioning for) the same character, or does each bring to the role numerous enough variables that considering them together begins to lose meaning? It’s a provocative question to ask in such an ostensibly makeshift manner; in the film’s second half, soundmen are visible setting up for scenes as the actors play out semi-improvised scenarios that carry a weight that is by turns funny and intense.
Realities collapse and collide in The Greatest Hits, which unfolds increasingly like an endless succession of screen tests. Remarkably, of course, just as Gabino has to readjust to life following his father’s unexpected but not unwelcome return, so we too find ourselves re-intrigued and gradually re-immersed for the film’s final third. Though we might feel a sense of loss in the wake of Luis Rodríguez’s unexpected and premature departure – in the same way a director may feel torn by two great but very different actors – there’s no denying that the chemistry between José and Gabino Rodríguez has richer layers of nuance.
Roll with this, and there are revelations to be had.Reviewed on: 26 Apr 2013
If you like this, try:Inland Empire