Official Competition


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Official Competition
"These are easy targets although there’s a lot of enjoyment to be hand in seeing them hit so accurately." | Photo: Manolo Pavon

Sometimes with comedy it’s not the strength of the jokes that makes something work but the manner of the delivery – and it doesn’t come much more dead pan than the framing employed by Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat. The almost architectural setting of this film with its barn-like brutalist settings and cool, steady takes adds a level of unexpected silliness to the otherwise familiar subject of inflated egos at the top of the film world.

Lola Cuevas (Penélope Cruz with a barnet that looks like Alma Har’el’s hair on steroids) is a film director in the arthouse mode who has been hired by a pharmaceutical billionaire (José Luis Gómez) to make a movie because he wants to cement his legacy. It was either this or a bridge. In what is possibly the best joke in the whole film, her back catalogue includes a film called The Inverted Rain, a title that skewers its arthouse target perfectly and tells you all you need to know about her.

Copy picture

This time around Cuevas’ source material is a melodramatic potboiler about two brothers whose relationship combusts after one kills their parents in a drunken accident. While the killer is in jail, things worsen as his girlfriend hooks up with his sibling. This plot is laid out by Cuevas as she pitches the film, leaving the stage set for the meat of the comedy, which revolves around the rehearsals ahead of shooting and the two men she casts.

Antonio Banderas has considerable fun sending himself up as Félix Rivero, a mainstream star with Golden Globes and prizes aplenty who is a girl magnet and uses menthol to help himself cry. The other brother is destined to be played by Iván Torres (Oscar Martínez) a luvvy theatre type, who believes in having a framework behind his acting and sneers at the very thought of prizes. As rehearsals begin, a slow but steady battle of wills and one-upmanship begins, not just between the actors – whose polar opposite approaches rankle them both despite their fine words about one another – but between them and the director, who seems as interested in torturing them as in the acting they produce.

This plays out in the cavern-like spaces of an empty building they have been given to rehearse in, its sharp lines reflecting the cutting edges of the satire as Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat step back and let their actors do the work. By hanging back rather than leaning in, the egotistical bombast is allowed to echo all the more hollowly and the pair also achieve several good sight gags, involving, among other things, the sort of rock that looks as if it has been hired in from a Road Runner cartoon. Still, despite all the good work, there’s a feeling of being at this rehearsal before. These are easy targets although there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had in seeing them hit so accurately.

Reviewed on: 10 Aug 2022
Share this with others on...
Official Competition packshot
In search of significance and social prestige, a billionaire businessman decides to make a film to leave his mark. To do it, he hires the best: a stellar team... but they have egos to match.
Amazon link

Director: Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat

Writer: Mariano Cohn, Andrés Duprat, Gastón Duprat

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz, Irene Escolar, Melina Matthews, Oscar Martínez, Carlos Hipólito, Pilar Castro, Karina Kolokolchykova, Manolo Solo, José Luis Gómez, Juan Grandinetti, Koldo Olabarri, Ken Appledorn, Mónica Bardem, Nagore Aranburu

Year: 2021

Runtime: 114 minutes

Country: Spain, Argentina

Search database: