Filmmakers Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn unite Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martinez for a tongue in cheek satire for a wild ride of ego baiting and art house snobbery that engulfs the film industry. From actors, filmmakers and even Film journalists, no one escapes the brutality of honesty in this hilarious delve into making an award-worthy movie.
Let this be known, this offering may just well pass over the heads of general audiences if it wasn’t for its delectable cast. This is made for Film industry insiders and everyone associated with the ugly pretensions that surround it. A dive into the commercialism and prestige that comes with making a notable film worthy only for the Festival circuit and its awards.
Getting straight to the point Duprat and Cohn introduce us to a Mr Burns looking character, pharmaceutical millionaire Humberto Suarez (José Luis Gómez), approaching 80, Suarez finds himself having an existential crisis, he has no legacy to speak off. To remedy this issue, he decides to finance a movie, but not any old movie; it has to be an awards based film, based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, cast with A-List actors and an acclaimed director at the helm, having paid a fortune for the rights. He has never read the book but that is neither here nor there.
Enter the quirky, tyrannical and complete art-house crazed Lola Cuevas (Penelope Cruz) as director, in charge of bringing ‘Rivalry’ to fruition with two of the biggest stars on the circuit. Felix Rivero (Antonio Banderas), a commercial success, heartthrob and lothario to many with an ego the size of Mount Everest is paired with Ivan Torres (Oscar Martinez). Having more of an understated ego, Ivan hasn’t had the same commercial success as his co-star and constantly belittles his ability as a true actor. With most scenes split into rehearsal time, Cuevas goad the men with constant line repeats until they get it right in her vision whilst making another repeat his lines playing a drunk at varying levels from 1-10.
The comedy is initiated from varying scene set-ups from a Cruz who completely commands the screen as she realises in making both Felix and Ivan squirm as they rehearse their lines beneath a giant boulder. On another occasion, arguments flare as she pits the men against each other with talk of who has won what awards, how many and how many children they have had by how many – to which Felix replies just one whilst pointing to his crotch. Banderas is clearly having the time of his life playing an exaggerated version of himself, proding at Ivan whilst in the midst of throwing heated insults at each other during one exercise. Martinez takes Ivan on a more superior yet sedated ego trip whilst spouting he would never accept being paid disgusting amounts of money or attend the Oscars only in the following scene to give a speech in front of a mirror declaring he is only attending in order to reject his prize.
From scene settings to costume design, there is an air of minimalist arthouse fair which only layers the comedy further with a cheeky all-knowing wink. A poke in the ribs to those who try to fool themselves and others that it’s ‘all for the art’ when in fact, it’s all about their overblown egos stating ‘take a closer look at yourselves in the mirror and get over it’.