Official Competitors (Competencia Oficial) publicizes its meta intentions with its very title. Here’s a Venice Movie Competition competitor in regards to the making of a competition movie. Lampooning the very world by which it exists, the Spanish comedy-drama is a extremely entertaining entry with successful performances from Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martínez.

An eccentric director is employed by a rich businessman who decides to supply a movie, on a whim, based mostly on a prize-winning novel he’s by no means learn. The truth that this director is performed by Cruz is a pleasant contact, provided that such fictional helmers are often male by default. Requested to rent “one of the best,” Lola Cuevas summons Argentinian thespian Iván Torres (Martínez) and showy field workplace star Félix Rivero (Banderas) to her mansion to rehearse for his or her roles as warring brothers. Her thought is to pit two opposites in opposition to one another and milk the sparks on display screen; her strategies change into more and more elaborate.

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Questioning simply how far this movie will go is half the enjoyable, and administrators Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat select their moments to push the tone from sharp observational comedy into absurdity — although it’s possible that almost all of that is drawn from expertise. Lola units “workout routines” for the 2 actors that take a look at their fragile egos — chairs are damaged, emotions are wounded, the road between actuality and fiction is blurred amid a sea of fibs.

Then there are particulars of Hollywood fame; from Félix’s exercise contraptions to the contract stipulating that no person can contact his face. There’s a deeply uncomfortable scene by which each males are required to kiss the very younger feminine lead (Irene Escobar). Then, Lola decides to show. The gender change dissipates the strain and heightens the humor, whereas nonetheless reinforcing the concept of a rich, privileged director who has little respect for the privateness or emotions of her actors.

Lola goes on to torture her solid in a method that has fetishistic overtones, aided by the coldly fashionable, fashionable look of her residence. Hair, make-up and wardrobe additionally play a giant half, from Lola’s huge crimson curls to her edgy style sense that suggestions into OTT territory at simply the appropriate second to undermine her pretentious utterings.

It’s credit score to the actors that these characters are nonetheless very participating, for all their flaws. Martinez is spot-on because the judgmental lecturer, whereas Banderas is hilarious, whether or not he’s apologizing for a attainable erection, or demonstrating find out how to act drunk on a scale of three/10. Their polarized attitudes to the craft of performing are explored with a realizing wink, and an acknowledgement that each strategies could have their deserves. Cruz is large, her character brimming with a confidence which will or will not be misplaced, adopting a particular gait and voice that handle to be plausible as effectively faintly ridiculous.

Journalists don’t escape critique, both: questions at a competition press convention have a tendency in the direction of the self-regarding or apparent, and are responded to with an eye-rolling that shall be acquainted to many competition goers. And with its references to the Volpi Cup, that is the Venice competitors at its most self-referential – and humorous.

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