Mariano Cohn, Gaston Dobrat
Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Oscar Martinez
September 30, 2022
«Harsilas with the film industry.»
What should be a movie that will take the world’s biggest film festivals by storm, instead becomes an intense drama with comedic kicks against the film industry. “The Official Contest” has a steady chord, and is a well-performed satire about all the ego in the industry. The title of the film plays a role in the main competition of film festivals, but also on the rivalry between the three actors in the film.
During the pre-acceptance rehearsals, you’ll witness Lola’s unconventional methods of growing what she wants from the actors. All this is pointless and crazy in many ways. Do you really need the strobe lights, subtle tremors or a five-ton boulder suspended in the air to feel a sensation? Everything in order for the film to be called a masterpiece, or to turn into a festival? Excuse me.
Moreover, both actors possess fierce egos. Each represents their own branch in the field of acting, with strong prejudices against each other as people and as actors. Evan is the kind of person who would rehearse a speech about why he didn’t want to accept an Oscar figurine. Félix has starred in dozens of blockbuster films, surrounds himself with beautiful women and drives fast cars. That doesn’t make him a bad actor, does it?
And does Lola, the director’s director, think the actors could ever make a good movie, without her God-given creations?
This is by no means a match made in heaven.
The film’s distinctive language with long shots and a camera standing on a tripod is reminiscent of the films of Swede Robin Osterlund. It creates uncomfortable situations depicting human reactions in small circumstances. One of the funniest scenes is when both acts are wrapped in plastic, while Lola throws her movie awards into a mill. The actors, who claim to have never cared about the awards, panic and swear to Lola to stop. This scene shows intelligence in a way that anyone can watch.
The actors give a solid performance, and Cruise seems to be in the shape of his life. She’s pretty childlike with Banderas and Martinez, and she seems to thrive in a role she’s never seen her play before. Lola may seem to lack social antennas, but in crucial scenes Cruz brings out her sympathetic sides that he never thought existed.
at its worst
The tamed final chapter is the weakest link in the movie. It’s as if the director duo Mariano Cohn and Gaston Dobrat have run out of ideas, and are shooting the movie on a tight budget. The second act of the film could have either been shortened, or the film could have been extended by a few dozen minutes to strengthen the final act. It didn’t hurt in any way, and might have even eliminated the crash that happens in the end.
In the end, the “Official Contest” is a depiction of the drama that unfolds when a great ego meets to solve a task. It has a convincing realism, depicting people at their worst.
It’s good, bad and hysterical at the same time.
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