‘Official Competition’ review: There’s no pity for the film industry’s madness in this sharp satire

Movie assessment

In “Official Competition,” Argentine administrators Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn, with their longtime collaborator, screenwriter Andrés Duprat, send up film society in this tragicomic dissection of the artist’s way, or instead, techniques. Famous Spanish stars Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas crew up with Duprat, Cohn and Argentine star Oscar Martínez to embody the various strains of pretentiousness that permeate the movie field, and the combustion that transpires when all 3 are thrown jointly in a higher-pressure condition.

This moviemaking satire begins with the revenue, of training course. An ageing pharmaceutical mogul, Humberto Suárez (José Luis Goméz) turns 80 and begins to look back on his legacy, taking into consideration what to put his name on. Not a developing, not a bridge, but a motion picture, a fantastic a person. So he hires a critically acclaimed, Palme d’Or-winning filmmaker, the eccentric Lola Cuevas (Cruz) and purchases the legal rights to a Nobel Prize-successful novel titled “Rivalry,” while he’s unfamiliar with the two Lola’s perform and the contents of the book. Even so, he installs her in his empty charity basis constructing, a hulking labyrinth of brutal modern day architecture, and what ever Lola would like, Lola will get.

What she needs is to pair a prestigious, properly-highly regarded actor and performing trainer, Iván Torres (Martínez), with a person of the country’s greatest stars, Félix Rivero (Banderas), pitting them from every single other in a loose adaptation of the novel about a lifelong rivalry among two brothers. She’s scheduled 9 days of shut rehearsal, all through which she topics Iván and Félix to an significantly absurd collection of “exercises” meant to “transform” them, hoping to break down their egos. Lola’s ironic, artsy pretentiousness rubs up in opposition to Iván’s super severe reverence for his craft and code of ethics, which then clashes with Félix’s diva actions and calls for. It is unclear who will make it out of this scenario intact, but what a joy it is to view an outlandishly wigged Cruz torture these two men, as the a few squabble and manipulate though hunting for a scrap of artistic transcendence.

“Official Competition” makes a assertion about the condition of the film market, with deep-pocketed traders searching for one thing that’s “the best” with out owning any clue about what that really implies. Lola usually takes down that idea, separating the suggestions of “quality” and “likability,” especially when she’s chatting about her do the job. But she’s also an empathetic person, and despite her arch persona, she feels deeply for her collaborators, regardless of, or maybe since of, the intimate inventive roller coaster she has built for them.

The constructing itself turns into a character in the movie, captured in thoughtful compositions by cinematographer Arnau Valls Colomer. The filmmakers use depth of industry superbly — there’s a humor in the way that the figures have to traverse these cavernous vacant spaces, or in the shapes and combos in which they are placed. Additional so, it is just about as if the house itself drives their madness, and it performs a crucial role in some of the film’s extra extraordinary turns.

The plot follows the meta-rivalry in between the two adult men who jockey to be the much better actor, but at the heart of the good and spiky “Official Competition” is the problem of what makes art “good,” as properly as the futility of implementing this sort of a banal label to a thing that can be moving, transportive or demanding. Eventually, the film asserts that “the best” may be anything fairly soulless, even harmful. This epiphany rocks Lola, and need to make the audience problem the price of placing art, and artists, in opposition with every other, a lesson to take to coronary heart each and every yr when awards season rolls all over, while this a single will very likely be in competition, and probably even in competitiveness.

“Official Competition” ★★★½ (out of four)

With Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Oscar Martínez. Directed by Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn. 114 minutes. Rated R for language and some nudity. In Spanish, with subtitles. Opens July 1 at SIFF Cinema Egyptian.

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