A decent Spanish comedy that pokes fun at the film industry, acting and the creative process, benefiting from the wonderful charisma of its trio of actors.
Cast: Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Oscar Martínez
Plot: A wealthy businessman hires a famous filmmaker to help make a smash hit film.
Awards: Nom. for Golden Lion & Queer Lion (Venice)
International Sales: Protagonist Pictures
Subject Matter: Moderate – Film Industry; Acting
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
Viewed: In Theatres – Shaw Lido
We haven’t had a film that poked fun at the film industry for quite some time, so seeing something like Official Competition was quite refreshing.
In competition at the Venice Film Festival last year, this Spanish comedy has a formidable leading cast in Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martinez, all three of whom deliver engaging performances.
But more importantly, the film is a showcase of the wonderful charisma that they possess as they light up the screen with their characters’ eccentric personalities.
Cruz plays Lola Cuevas, a renowned iconoclastic auteur who must direct two of the world’s greatest actors, played by Banderas and Martinez, in an arthouse production of a book adaptation, financed entirely by a wealthy old man, hoping he would be remembered when he passes away.
“It’s not the first time I’ve worked with an idiot.”
Martinez’s Ivan Torres is a respected thespian while Banderas’ Felix Rivero is a global star—each has their own style, philosophy and process, creating natural tension during the countless rehearsals they are made to partake in before principal photography commences.
Co-directors Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat keep proceedings straightforward and imbue much of their film with a strong note of levity, but not without also gleefully providing little narrative detours.
Official Competition benefits very much from the wonderful charisma of its trio of actors, as they battle it out on the acting front.
In this case, the film’s title has a double meaning, not just referring to film festivals and their awards competition, but also the manipulative and deceptive means that human beings employ to show who’s stronger or better in a testing rivalry.
Will Lola be able to complete the film? When faith is a matter of irony, it’s difficult to draw any conclusion.