review: Official COMpetition
A billionaire industrialist decides he wants to leave a lasting legacy in this Spanish comedy. He decides on producing a movie with ‘the very best people’. This shakes out as the recruitment of maverick director Lola Cuevas (Penélope Cruz), who casts leading men Félix Rivero (Antonio Banderas), and Iván Torres (Oscar Martínez) in an adaptation of a dramatic novel. Cuevas longs for tension during preparation, an easy task given that Rivero is a brash international movie star and Torres is a pompous classical actor. Both are put through extreme paces in the build-up to the shoot, the creative tensions embellished by the physical tension of one scene that is rehearsed directly under a huge boulder, suspended over their heads on a crane. Cuevas has an exacting vision, Torres getting ever more irritated as he is made to repeat his first line in the film - “Good evening” - multiple times ”to find the truth”. It’s a clever and acerbic satire on film making in the modern age, and on pretention and ego. The leads all relish their occasionally monstrous characters, all of them both endearing and despicable in different ways. Banderas even delivers the cliched line that male actors trot out for love scenes regarding any potential for getting physically aroused, telling his scene partner “I’m sorry if I do, and I’m sorry if I don’t”. It’s a well-balanced three-hander, and though Banderas and Martínez are both convincing and combative, it’s Cruz that steals the show with her unpredictable whimsy, devastatingly chic fashion sense and high-handed artistic process, not to mention her sublime hair. PO
Official Competition is playing now at Prytania Canal Place.
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