Official Competition

By September 13, 2022Uncategorised

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Official Competition, aka Competencia Oficial, Spain/Argentina  2021

Location: SilverCity

Showtimes: 6:30 & 8:30 pm

Director: Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat

Cast: Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Oscar Martinez 

Running Time: 114 minutes

Language: Spanish with English subtitles

Nominations: San Sebastian International Film Festival: Best Film, Audience Award; Venice Film Festival: Best Film; Best Directors.

“Official Competition is a wicked satire on the art of fine filmmaking, which allows three great actors to have a hoot — along with the audience.”—Kate Muir, Daily Mail (UK)

Having surveyed his legacy and finding it lacking in prestige, an octogenarian millionaire pharmaceutical tycoon (José Luis Gómez) decides to finance a great work of cinema. He purchases the rights to a Nobel Prize–winning novel about sibling rivalry and entrusts the property to enigmatic auteur Lola Cuevas (Penélope Cruz). 

A visionary conceptualist with a penchant for off-screen theatrics and micromanagement, Lola casts as her embattled co-leads a pair of veteran thespians who couldn’t be less alike: Iván Torres (Oscar Martínez) is a revered educator and legend of the stage much concerned with ethics and artistry, while Félix Rivero (Antonio Banderas) is a glamorous global star known mostly for brainless, bombastic entertainments.

Alternating between exacerbating the actors’ mutual antipathy and uniting them in their discomfort with her psychologically tumultuous rehearsal techniques, Lola seeks to capture the drama of two alpha males vying for the limelight — but it won’t be long before the gambit goes off the rails.

Awash in egomania and deliciously absurd behind-the-scenes hijinx, Argentine writer-directors Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat’s Official Competition is an ingenious, icy satire. Largely a chamber piece, the film provides its central trio with ample opportunity for both vulnerability and scenery chewing. 

Martínez deftly reveals the childish wounds underlying Iván’s high ideals, while Banderas utilizes his star power to craft a portrait of a man consumed by his own celebrity. But it’s Cruz, sporting a magnificent cloud of ginger curls, who becomes the film’s anchor as a master manipulator looking on as her grand scheme spirals out of control.

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