Directors: Mariano Cohn & Gaston Duprat. Starring; Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Oscar Martinez. Rated R. Color. 115 Minutes.
Lola Cuevas (Penelope Cruz) has everything against her as far as being an acclaimed director goes. She is hired by a millionaire who wants to conquer the film business. The two stars she brings on are, one, an egotistical superstar who simply wants to bang hot chicks, and two, an old washed-up teacher who thinks the big time movie business passed him up because he is too intellectual. A niece hired by the millionaire producer who has to be in the movie. The film itself must be based on a convoluted book because it was “popular” in the country. And finally, Lola is too crazy brilliant for her own good. All of this leads up to a great piece of hilarious hypocrisy that looks at the makings of a film in a unique way.
The irony of “Official Competition” comes from the title alone as it satirizes the processes of trying way too hard to make a movie that will win all of the awards. This movie is all about how hilarious ego can be. A pharmaceutical CEO billionaire named Humberto (Jose Luis Gomez) has conquered the business market, yet is still not satisfied. The rich man decides he will make the greatest movie ever which will be more valuable than having his name on a bridge. Sounds like half of the Cannes and Oscar hopefuls every year.
Enter Lola Cuevas, a role in which Penelope Cruz deserves an Oscar nomination for, a woman who is considered to be the best director on the European scene. The billionaire insists that this masterpiece will be based on an award winning novel involving two brothers, one of which was the catalyst of their parents’ death. Cuevas agrees, but insists on complete creative control with the right to gut the book as she sees fit. The genius and the billionaire agree and the process begins.
“Official Competition” is straightforward at this point. Everyone who works on movies is incredibly valuable. But let us be honest, what is the most important element on screen? ACTORS! Cuevas brings together two polar opposites to tell this tragic story pitting brother against brother. First up is Ivan (Oscar Torres), an older actor as well as film professor who takes himself way too seriously. One of those performers obsessed with the “its all about the craft” mentality. Following close behind is Felix (Antonio Banderas), an established movie star who loves fast cars and hot women. These personalities from different worlds have no clue about what they have gotten themselves into.
As Lola gradually guides them through rehearsals, these two opposing actors begin to converge. The “veteran” is forced to repeat a simple line during the initial reading, which places the other star off guard. Lola means business. A tension-filled scene in which the two actors are wrapped in cellophane as they watch their actual previous awards placed through a wood chipper is hilarious for us, terrible for them. Along this journey, Lola forces the actors to rehearse underneath a giant boulder hung above their heads by crane. And let us not forget a rehearsal of the final scene as they make their way through airline security check style zip-lines.
This film truly divides itself with a certain confession by one of the trio about health concerns. It is incredibly visceral and brings the fractured group together. I will leave it there as the final act is both tragic as well as hysterical.
Movies about making movies come out every year from around the world. “Official Competition” certainly stands out from the pack. This picture looks at how ludicrous forcing great art is, while at the same time laughing, in a good way, how awesome it is to be that ambitious. Never get too cocky. Never think that your movie should be up for “Official Competition”.
Suck Factor: 0 out of 7 (7 Means Your Movie Really SUCKS!)
The SUCK FACTOR! How it works. We have flipped the script on the standard movie rating system. If you make a classic, such as “The Godfather”, you receive 0 SUCKS! If you make a complete piece of crap you receive an abysmal 7 out of 7, meaning your movie truly SUCKS!