Official Competition – Film Review
by Frank L.
Directors – Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat
Writers – Mariano Cohn, Andrés Duprat, Gastón Duprat
Stars – Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Oscar Martínez
The three main characters are each egotistical and it is the egotism of the fourth substantial character that brings the three together. He is a man coming towards the end of his successful business career and contemplates by what monumental structure he will be remembered. He thinks about a bridge that will be a vital transport link but plumps for a film which is the adaptation of a novel by a Nobel prize-winning author for which he pays an obscene amount of money but never bothers to read it. He hires to direct the film Lola Cuevas (Penelope Cruz) who has a glittering reputation, but is eccentric and on set is a control freak. She in turn wants to employ the two leading actors of the day Felix Rivero (Antonio Banderas) and Ivan Torres (Oscar Martinez) who have never acted together and have a mutual disdain for each other. This is a high-wire challenge without any safety net.
The film is shot in magnificent contemporary buildings which create vast uncluttered spaces. This adds another dimension of megalomania to the gargantuan egos which are on display. In contrast, the director Lola is a detail fanatic and she has vast a tome of notes which detail every aspect of each potential shot.
Inevitably, given the scale of the egos involved in the making of the film, the actual process of shooting is going to be fraught. There are many twists and turns which lead to highly comic scenes and also scenes of embarrassment and social pain. These variations succeed each other so quickly that you find yourself on an emotional roller coaster. The interiors in which the actors perform are most carefully chosen so that when the inevitable confrontations occur, the atmosphere is extremely tense. This attention to detail in the interiors is even more acute when Cuevas is alone in front of the camera. The interiors add to her sense of creative power and originality.
The acting of Cruz, Banderas and Martinez and their interaction is a joy to behold. They are three masters of their craft. In addition, they have a fine script. Cohn and Duprat’s direction allows each of the actors to perform optimally.
The storyline may be taken with a grain of salt. While what happens is possible it is unlikely. It keeps just within the bounds of credibility but that does not diminish in any manner from the merriment generated. In these troubled times, it is good that Spanish actors and Latin American directors can create such a gem of a film which will bring delight far beyond the Spanish-speaking world. The rest of the world should be grateful. Go to this film and enjoy the Latin exuberance of it all.